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Keywords:

  • ageing;
  • cytokine;
  • natural killer cell activity;
  • probiotics;
  • T lymphocytes

Abstract

Bifidobacterium longum bv. infantis CCUG 52486 was originally isolated from healthy elderly subjects and demonstrated to have particular ecological fitness and anti-pathogenic effects. Bifidobacteria are commonly associated with immuno-modulatory properties, especially in older people, but this strain has not been investigated for effects on immune function. This study aimed to explore the immunomodulatory effects of this novel probiotic, compared with three commercial strains, B. longum SP 07/3, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (L.GG) and Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS). Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from fasting blood of young or older volunteers and exposed to probiotic strains or Con A. NK activity and activation, and cytokine release was enhanced by all probiotics with strain specificities. The effect of B. infantis on NK activity was influenced by ageing. Except for L.GG, probiotics increased IFN-γ production to a much greater degree in young subjects and increased IL-6 production to a much greater degree in older subjects. Based on IL-10/IL-12 ratios, B. infantis resulted in the most anti-inflammatory profile of all of the probiotics. These results suggest that B. infantis CCUG 52486 has strong immunomodulatory potential compared with well-known commercial strains and that the immune response to probiotics may be influenced by ageing.