The benefits were only observed during the supplementation period, and the probiotic did not persist in the gut after supplements were stopped, according to results published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
Levels of white blood cells called eosinophils that control the mechanisms of allergy significantly decreased in children receiving the probiotic, compared with the placebo group, report researchers from Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, CJ Foods R & D Center, and Chung-Ang University College of Medicine.
Levels of the allergy marker interleukin-4 (IL-4) were also reduced in the probiotic group.
While the probiotic was associated with improvements in symptoms of eczema, the researchers caution that the long-term effects of the probiotic strain remain because it does not persist in the gut.
Probiotics for AD
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It is a common inflammatory skin disorder, which occurs in early childhood and may persists into adult life. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists it affects between 10 to 20% of all infants, but almost half of these kids will 'grow out' of eczema between the ages of five and 15.
Current treatments focus on alleviating symptoms, but probiotics have been studied for over 20 years for their therapeutic benefits for the condition, with numerous studies identifying significant strain-specific benefits.
The Korean researchers recruited 118 children with eczema aged between 1 and 13 to participate in their randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The children were randomly assigned to receive daily supplements of L. plantarum CJLP133 (CJ Cheiljedang Corp.) at a dosage of 5 billion colony-forming units. Eighty-three children completed the 12 week study.
Results showed that eczema scores, as measured by SCOring of Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) scores, changed by 9.1 points in the probiotic group, which was greater than 1.8 point change in the placebo group.
In addition, total eosinophil numbers were significantly lower at the end of the study, compared with numbers at the start.
“A reduction in eosinophil counts represents decreased disease activity, as there is a positive correlation between clinical severity and total eosinophil counts in acute exacerbation phase of atopic dermatitis,” they wrote.
The researchers note, however, that there were no statistical differences in the use of topical corticosteroids between the two groups.
The underlying mechanism of action is not known, they added, and this remains to be studied.
Source: Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
November 2012, Volume 23, Issue 7, pages 667–673, doi: 10.1111/pai.12010
“A randomized trial of Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133 for the treatment of atopic dermatitis”
Authors: Han Y, Kim B, Ban J, Lee J, Kim BJ, Choi BS, Hwang S, Ahn K, Kim J.