Salivary IgA response to probiotic bacteria and mutans streptococci after the use of chewing gum containing Lactobacillus reuteri


  • In this small-scale random controlled trial, the authors have tested the effect of the probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus reuteri, instilled into chewing gum versus a placebo. They found that the probiotic intervention did indeed affect salivary IgA concentration thus indicating an effect on local immunity, and providing yet another effective approach to the delivery of probiotics.


We investigated whether ingestion of probiotic bacteria could influence salivary IgA levels, specific anti-mutans streptococci IgA levels and specific antibodies towards the ingested probiotic bacterium. The study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, where the test group (n = 11) received twice daily chewing of gum containing Lactobacillus reuteri (2 × 108 CFU per dose) and the control group (n = 12) received placebo. Resting saliva was collected before and after 12 weeks of treatment and 4 weeks after end of treatment. Total salivary IgA concentrations were measured by ELISA. Specific IgA reactivity was determined using a whole-cell ELISA. Results were expressed as % IgA per protein in saliva. The level of total IgA% per protein increased significantly between pretreatment levels (13.5%) and follow-up treatment levels (14.4%) within the test group only (P < 0.05). No changes were seen in the control group during the trial. The level of probiotic-reactive antibodies decreased significantly between pre- and post-treatment samples (from 12.2% to 9.0%, P < 0.05) in the test group. Similarly, the level of specific mutans streptococci antibodies decreased significantly between pre- and post-treatment samples (P < 0.05) in the test group only (for Streptococcus mutans from 20.1% to 15.0%; for Streptococcus sobrinus from 7.4% to 5.3%). Ingestion of probiotic bacteria might influence the adaptive immune response of the host.