Effects of probiotic supplementation for the first 6 months of life on allergen- and vaccine-specific immune responses

Angie Taylor, J. Hale, J. Wiltschut, H. Lehman, Janet Dunstan, Susan Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background A reduction in microbial burden during infancy when allergen-specific memory is evolving has become a prominent explanation for the allergy epidemic.Objective We sought to determine whether probiotic dietary supplementation in the first 6 months of life could modify allergen- and vaccine-specific immune responses.Methods Two hundred and thirty-one pregnant women with a history of allergic disease and positive allergen skin prick test (SPT) were recruited into a randomized-controlled trial. The infants received either a probiotic (3 x 10(9) Lactobacillus acidophilus LAVRI-A1; Probiomics) or placebo (maltodextrin alone) daily for the first 6 months of life, given independent of feeding methods. One hundred and seventy-eight children completed the study; blood samples were available from 60 children in the placebo group and 58 children in the probiotic group. Infant cytokine (IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, TNF-alpha or TGF-beta) responses to tetanus toxoid (TT), house dust mite (HDM), ovalbumin (OVA), beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), Staphylococcus enterotoxin B (SEB) and phytohaemaglutinin (PHA) were measured at 6 months of age.Results Children who received the probiotics showed reduced production of IL-5 and TGF-beta in response to polyclonal (SEB) stimulation (P=0.044 and 0.015, respectively). They also demonstrated significantly lower IL-10 responses to TT vaccine antigen compared with the placebo group (P=0.03), and this was not due to any differences in vaccination. However, there were no significant effects of probiotics on either Type 1 (Th1) or Type 2 (Th2) T helper cell responses to allergens or other stimuli. The only other effects observed were for reduced TNF-alpha and IL-10 responsiveness to HDM allergens in children receiving probiotics (P=0.046 and 0.014, respectively).Conclusions In summary, although we did not see any consistent effects on allergen-specific responses, our study suggests that probiotics may have immunomodulatory effects on vaccine responses. The significance and clinical relevance of this need to be determined in further studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1235
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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