Probiotic bacteria, defined as living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on human health, have mostly been studied in the prevention and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies. Probiotic products, however, are usually consumed by the general, healthy population but not much is known what kind of effects they have on the immune system in healthy adults.
It is not clear how probiotics exert their health effects, but one of the most probable action mechanisms is the modulation of immune responses via the gut's mucosal immune system.
This study investigated the immunomodulatory effects of probiotics bacteria in healthy adults. It was found that probiotics have an anti-inflammatory potential seen as a decrease in serum CRP levels and as a reduction in bacteria-induced production of proinflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Understanding of the specific immunomodulatory effects of probiotics may help in designing future probiotics for targeted purposes. As the effects in the present study were investigated in healthy adults, the real impact of probiotics on inflammatory variables warrants further evaluation during inflammatory processes and in individuals suffering from various types of inflammatory or autoimmune diseases.
This research was carried out in collaboration with University of Helsinki (Finland), Valio Research Centre (Finland), and the National Public Health Institute (Finland). Part of the study was funded by the Academy of Finland.
- Kekkonen RA, Lummela N, Karjalainen H, Latvala S, Tynkkynen S, Järvenpää S, Kautiainen H, Julkunen I, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Probiotic intervention has strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14(13): 2029-2036 [link]
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