Feeding Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei strain F19 to infants during weaning : effects on adaptive immunity and gut microbial function
Introduction: Gut microbial composition has been associated with immune-mediated diseases. Breastfeeding yields a microbiota rich in bifidobacteria and promotes colonization by lactobacilli. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are considered health-promoting and are used as probiotics, i.e. live microbial food supplements which when ingested in adequate amounts confer a beneficial effect on the host. During weaning the developing gut immune system is exposed to an increasing variety of antigens from both foods and gut microbiota.Aims: We aimed to determine if daily feeding of 1x108 colony-forming units (CFU) of the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei strain F19 (LF19) to healthy term infants from 4 to 13 months of age could maintain some of the beneficial effects conferred by breastfeeding on gut microbial composition, with possible effects on gut microbial function, T cell function, Th1/Th2 immune balance and eczema incidence.Study design: Infants were randomized to daily intake of cereals with (n=89) or without LF19 (n=90) from 4-13 months of age. Clinical outcome measures were monitored by diaries and a questionnaire. Stool and blood samples were obtained at 4, 6½, 9, 13 and 5½, 6½, 12 and 13 months of age, respectively. Stool samples were analyzed for lactobacilli counts by conventional culture methods and the presence of LF19 was verified by randomly amplified polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR). Fecal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) pattern, a proxy for gut microbial function, was determined by gas-liquid chromatography. After polyclonal or specific activation of T cells, the cytokine mRNA expression levels [interleukin 2 (IL2), IFN-?, IL4 and IL10] were determined on isolated mRNA by quantitative real time reverse transcriptase-PCR. Serum concentrations of total and specific IgE antibodies, Haemophilus influenzae type b, diphtheria and tetanus toxoid specific IgG antibodies were analyzed by enzyme immunoassay.Results: Feeding LF19 maintained high fecal lactobacilli counts during weaning. Persistent colonization with LF19 induced differences in the fecal SCFA pattern. The cumulative incidence of eczema was lower in the probiotic group, in conjunction with a higher IFN-?/IL4 mRNA ratio in polyclonally activated T cells. Even though there was an effect by LF19 on Th1/Th2 immune balance, there was no effect on IgE sensitization. Infants in both groups increased their capacity to express both Th1 and Th2 cytokines during the second half of infancy but the expression was still lower than that of adults. Infants in the probiotic group had lower IL2 levels after polyclonal T cell activation at 13 months of age compared with infants in the placebo group. Infants fed LF19 did not have fewer infections, but had fewer days with antibiotic prescription compared with infants fed placebo. In addition, compared to placebo, persistent colonization by LF19 enhanced specific vaccine responses to protein antigens during the course of vaccination.Conclusions: We conclude that feeding LF19 was safe, based on no observed adverse effects in our study. Infants in both groups demonstrated maturation of adaptive immune responses during weaning. Adding probiotics in complementary foods during weaning reduced the risk of eczema by 50%, with a concomitant shift towards an enhanced Th1/Th2 ratio. The reduction of eczema might be explained by probiotic effects on both T cell-mediated immune responses and reinforced gut microbial function.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:MEDICINE; Dermatology and venerology,clinical genetics, internal medicine; Internal medicine; Paediatric medicine; adaptive immunity; allergy; complementary food; eczema; gut microbiota; infections; probiotics; short-chain fatty acids; Th1/Th2; weaning
Date of Publication:01/01/2008