Probiotic strains boost breathing and immunity, say scientists

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Immune system

Scientists have found a proprietary probiotic strain, BLIS K12, can deliver immunity and respiratory benefits that go beyond previously investigated oral health potential.

Writing in the September issue of the American Society of Microbiology journal, Infection and Immunity, ​the researchers found that the oral probiotic delivered “a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect” ​that had benefits for the whole body and not just the mouth.

These included healthier immune and respiratory systems.

Previous research has indicated the probiotic delivers antibacterial peptides when threatened by disease-causing bacteria, an effect said to make the bacteria more effective than typical throat lozenges.

The same effect delivered benefits to other parts of the body found the researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada, the University of Leeds in the UK and the University of Otago in New Zealand.

“The commensal and probiotic behaviors of S. salivarius K12 are proposed to be due to the organism (i) eliciting no proinflammatory response, (ii) stimulating an anti-inflammatory response, and (iii) modulating genes associated with adhesion to the epithelial layer and homeostasis,”​ the researchers concluded.

S. salivarius K12 might thereby ensure that it is tolerated by the host and maintained on the epithelial surface while actively protecting the host from inflammation and apoptosis induced by pathogens.”

The probiotic’s developer is the New Zealand start-up, Blis Technologies, which in October signed a deal with the US arm of Israeli-based supplier, Frutarom, to have K12 distributed throughout North America.

Frutarom technical health manager, Jocelyn Mathern, highlighted the K12 study's genetic results.

“The study also suggested that the BLIS K12 could switch on the genes in the epithelial tissue that are responsible for cellular rebuilding and repair, especially after a cell has been damaged by a pathogen,”​ she said.

K12 has been linked to the relief of airways infection, bad breath and bacterial infections of the oral cavity and other benefits.

“We know that BLIS K12 has protective benefits against sore throats and upper respiratory infections, but this research suggests that if you are already sick, Blis K12 can stimulate an immune response to help a person recover faster,” ​Mathern added.

An earlier study from the University of British Columbia and published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases​ suggested K12 could exert a long-term protective effect upon the upper respiratory tract.

This included the ear, nose and throat if the subjects sucked on K12-fortified lozenges following a course of antibiotics.

The study also suggested K12 could protect against ear infections in children.

Source: Infection and Immunity

Vol. 76, No. 9, September, 2008, Pages 4163–4175

“The Commensal Streptococcus salivarius K12 Downregulates the Innate Immune Responses of Human Epithelial Cells and Promotes Host-Microbe Homeostasis”

Authors: Celine Cosseau; Deirdre A Devine; Edie Dullaghan; Jennifer L. Gardy; Avinash Chikatamarla; Shaan Gellatly; Lorraine L. Yu; Jelena Pistolic; Reza Falsafi; John Tagg; and Robert E. W. Hancock

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