Heat-killed lactobacillus shows oral health benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStockPhoto / shironosov
Image: iStockPhoto / shironosov

Related tags Immune system

Consuming capsules with heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 may help reduce probing depth in people with periodontal disease, says a new study from Japan.

Data published in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry​ indicated that consuming the commercial House Wellness Foods product called Immuno-LP20 – which contains heat-killed L. plantarum ​L-137 – for 12 weeks resulted in a dramatic improvement in periodontal condition.

The researchers focused on the probing depth of gaps and other areas that shelter and foster pathogenic organisms that can result in inflammation, irritation, and decay.

“We demonstrated that the [probing depth] of periodontal pockets that were greater than 4 mm at baseline showed significantly greater reduction in the experimental group than in the control group among individuals undergoing [supportive periodontal therapy],” ​wrote the researchers.

Study details

Nature's Way LP-20
According to the company, L. plantarum strain L-137 is derived from a fermentation process long used in traditional Southeast Asian food preparation. House Wellness Foods expanded outside of Japan in 2010. It is available in supplement products in the US via brands such as Nature's Way, and Allergy Research Group.

Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. It is reportedly the second most common disease worldwide, with 30–50% of the US population suffering from it.

Gum tissue swells and becomes displaced, gaps increase and widen, into which more bacteria rush. Regular supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) can keep these dangers at bay, but has its limits, explained the Japanese researchers.

For the new study, the researchers recruited 39 people undergoing SPT and randomly assigned them to either a daily placebo or a capsule containing 10 mg of L-137 for 12 weeks.

Results showed that bleeding on probing was significantly reduced in both groups. However, only the L-137 group had significantly greater probing depth reduction at teeth with site(s) with probing depths of at least 4 mm at the start of the study, compared with the control group at week 12.


The researchers said that the potential mechanism of action is currently unclear, but there is data from other studies to be able to propose mechanisms linked to the ingredient’s effect on the immune system.

“The immune response against periodontopathic bacteria is regulated by the balance between cytokines produced by Th1 and Th2 cells,” ​they wrote. “Various inflammatory cytokines have been also shown to play a role in osteoclastgenesis, including IFN-alpha, IFN-beta, and IFN-gamma, and the negative effect of IFN-gamma on osteoclastgenesis has been the most extensively characterized among these inflammatory cytokines.

“HK L-137 is a potent inducer of IL-12, which leads to a Th1-type immune response through IFN-gamma induction and has reported that daily intake of HK L-137 enhanced Th1-related immune functions and IFN-beta production in healthy subjects.

“It is possible that the probing depths reduction in teeth with probing depths greater than 4 mm is related in some way to the enhancement of IFN-beta and IFN-gamma production in subjects who consume HK L-137.”

Source: Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3290/j.ohpd.a36099
“Daily Intake of Heat-killed ​Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 Decreases the Probing Depth in Patients Undergoing Supportive Periodontal Therapy”
Authors: K. Iwasaki, et al.

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