• probiotics;
  • food allergy;
  • innate immunity;
  • gut microflora;
  • enterotoxins;
  • cytokines

The definition of probiotics is always evolving, since it includes natural live micro-organisms, cellular subfractions, as well as genetically engineered derivatives or proteins. The scope of probiotic administration is beneficial change of the intestinal microflora, and improvement of non immune or immune resistance in the intestinal tract. Very few controlled human studies have been reported, but many in vitro and experimental animal studies point to their safety and potentially useful applications. We shall review the published reports and discuss mainly the prospective uses in the field of allergic diseases, with reference to the implication of the natural (innate) immune system as regulator of the development of abnormal responses to ingested food antigens.