Probiotics are promoted as being beneficial to health and positive effects on the immune system have been reported. Beneficial immune effects have been attributed to several mechanisms, including stimulating T helper 1 (Th1) immunity. To explore the effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis on Th1- and Th2-mediated immune responses, two different animal models representing either Th1- or Th2-mediated immune responses were used: a rat model for experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) (Th1) and a mouse model for respiratory allergy induced by ovalbumin (OVA) (Th2). B. animalis administration started when the mice or rats were 2 weeks old. Respiratory allergy or EAE were induced when the animals were 6-7 weeks old. In the allergy model, B. animalis modestly reduced the number of infiltrating eosinophils and lymphocytes in the lungs, but no effects on allergen-specific serum immunoglobulin E levels were found. Cytokine profiles assessed after culturing spleen cells with the mitogen concanvalin A (ConA) showed that B. animalis skewed the Th1/Th2 balance towards Th1 in females. However, allergen-induced cytokine production in females was not affected by B. animalis. In males, B. animalis significantly decreased ConA-induced interleukin-13 and a trend towards lower levels of OVA-induced Th2 cytokines. In the EAE model, B. animalis significantly reduced the duration of clinical symptoms by almost 2 days in males and improved the body weight gain during the experimental period compared with the control group. Our data show that B. animalis reduced several immune parameters in the allergy as well as in the autoimmunity model.
Ezendam, J., de Klerk, A., Gremmer, E. R., & van Loveren, H. (2008). Effects of Bifidobacterium animalis administered during lactation on allergic and autoimmune responses in rodents. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 154(3), 424-31. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03788.x