At a recent two-day meeting dedicated to probiotics and immunity, scientists and opinion leaders in immunology, respiratory medicine, paediatrics and gastroenterology met to discuss the role of probiotics and immunity.
When asked by NutraIngredients if the link between gut health and immunity too obscure for consumers, Lallemand’s Isabelle Champié said: “We don’t think so.”
“Awareness has increased in the past several years thanks to big dairy companies and more and more researches are conducted and advertised to prove the efficacy of probiotics in prevention of some diseases involving a low immunity.”
Champié added that most of the company’s in vitro or in vivo trials involve immunity.
“Even if many studies have been done, it seems that research in to [probiotics and immunity] is still in its infancy,” she said. “Immunity itself is always evolving, and a lot of research on mechanisms of actions need to be done.
“One of the messages of our seminar on which clinicians and scientists agreed was that ‘we know that it works but we still don’t know how it works’, we need to have more data on the mechanisms of actions to backup clinical trials. That’s why Lallemand is investing in new cutting edge technologies like Immune microarray,” added Champié.
A DNA microarray specific to immunity has been developed by Institut Rosell and the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal. The microarray is reported to study the effects of probiotic bacteria-human cell interactions upon the expression of genes involved in the immune response. In total, 1,354 genes appear on the microarray, said Lallemand.
“The immune microarray will serve as an excellent tool to compare the impact of various probiotic compositions upon immune response and to better understand their action mechanisms in the host, especially when co-challenged with pathogenic bacteria,” said Dr Julie Audy, laboratory manager at Institut Rosell in Canada.
Yvan Boutin from TransBIOtech, Canada echoed Champié’s statements about the mechanisms, noting that while it is now increasingly recognized that probiotics are able to influence the immune response, their modes of action are still poorly understood.
Expert panel conclusions
The two-day meeting was concluded by a panel discussion concerning the use of probiotics in the prevention of infectious diseases. The panel, chaired by Dr Patricia Conway, Professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, concluded: “The panel was in agreement that probiotics held promise for decreasing a range of diseases in children and adults with applications including geriatrics. It was agreed that all diseases can be considered targets for [Lallemand’s immunity range] ProBioKid since it has intestinal and immune modulating activity and most childhood diseases appear linked in some way and reflect an alteration from the healthy state.
“In addition, the complete safety of ProbioKid was acknowledged and it was concluded that the extended use of ProBioKid as could be needed in countries with long winters was not posing any risks and that benefits would be anticipated.”