Strain-specific immunomodulatory effects of Lactobacillus plantarum strains on birch-pollen-allergic subjects out of season

J. Snel, Y.M. Vissers, B.A. Smit, J.M.J. Jongen, E.T. Meulen, R. Zwijsen

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Background Allergic diseases are increasing world-wide, and according to the hygiene hypothesis may be related to a decreased exposure to environmental bacteria. Probiotic bacteria are recognized for their immunomodulating properties, and may benefit allergy patients. In vitro studies reveal immunomodulatory effects that are strain dependent. Differential immunomodulatory in vitro capacities cannot be extrapolated directly to in vivo efficacy. Thus, in vitro screening should preferably be followed by a comparative analysis of the selected immunomodulatory strains in an in vivo setting. Objective We selected five Lactobacillus strains on their IL-10-inducing capacity, and evaluated the immunomodulatory properties in birch-pollen-allergic subjects outside the hayfever season, with a reduction of IL-13 as the primary outcome. Methods A double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel study was performed in which 62 subjects with a proven birch-pollen allergy consumed one of five different probiotic yoghurts containing four Lactobacillus plantarum strains and one Lactobacillus casei strain or a placebo yoghurt. Blood samples were collected at the start and after 4 weeks. Several immune parameters were determined in serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures (PBMC) derived from these subjects. Results A decrease in birch-pollen-specific IgE was found for four probiotic strains. L. casei Shirota reduced the number of CD16+/CD56+ cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. For strain L. plantarum CBS125632, the decrease in IgE coincided with significant decreases in IL-5 and IL-13 production by aCD3/aCD28-stimulated PBMC cultures. Conclusion and Clinical Relevance Subjects with seasonal allergy can be used to determine immunomodulatory responses outside the pollen season within a 4-week study period. L. plantarum CBS125632 decreased several immune markers related to allergy, and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-242
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • japanese cedar pollinosis
  • placebo-controlled-trial
  • blood mononuclear-cells
  • double-blind
  • cytokine production
  • hygiene hypothesis
  • clinical-trials
  • atopic disease
  • casei shirota
  • mast-cells

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