Nightshift workers may benefit from probiotic’s immune-supporting capabilities, says Chr. Hansen

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Nightshift workers may benefit from probiotic use, says Chr. Hansen

Related tags Chr hansen Probiotic nightshift

Chr. Hansen has highlighted the possible benefits probiotic supplements may have to shift workers, as a new study suggests they may offer support to the immune system and improvements to sleep quality.

The team identifies Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 ​and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis UABla-12 ​as two probiotic strains capable of moderating the effects of stress on the immune system.

“With this study we are taking steps into exploring the fascinating interplay between the gut-brain axis and the immune system, an early and unique novel area of research,”​ explains Dr Gregory Leyer, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs, Human Health at Chr. Hansen.

“Our gut and brain are connected physically through millions of nerves, referred to as the gut-brain axis, and this is also connected through the immune system.

“The gut and gut microbes play an important role in our immune system by controlling what is passed into the body and what is excreted,”​ Dr Leyer adds.

“Recent advances in research have described the importance of gut microbiota in influencing these interactions.”

The team from Australia’s Griffith University and United Agricultural Services (UAS) Labs in the US discuss how low-quality sleep is linked to changes in immune function that promotes inflammation, which goes on to underlie associated negative health effects.

The microbiota’s role in the development of the immune system and the regulation of inflammation throughout life has been well documented.

Probiotics are able to colonise the gut microbiota and are assumed to exert beneficial effects on health by modifying the immune system.

The research team draw upon previous work as evidence that some probiotics are able to reduce the risk of common respiratory illnesses and modulate the immune system.

The study findings along with previous evidence suggests much potential in using probiotic supplement to address sleep disruption-induced changes in inflammation associated with night shift.

Study methodology

A total of 94 participants were recruited to the study and 87 participants were included in the final analysis.

These subjects were randomly assigned to a probiotic group (1 × 1010 colony forming units (CFU) Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1​ or 1 × 1010 CFU Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis UABla-12​) or placebo (29 subjects per group).

They underwent a 14-day supplementation period that coincided with a period of no night shifts followed by two consecutive night shifts.

Blood samples were collected prior to the start of supplementation (V1), prior to commencing the first night shift (V2), after the first night shift (V3) and after the second night shift (V4).

Serum was assessed for markers of stress (cortisol) and acute phase response (C reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate, pentraxin).

The team also looked for markers linked to sleep deprivation such as adhesion markers (serum E-selectin, mucosal vascular addressin cell adhesion molecule 1 (MAdCAM-1), and serum cytokines (interleukin (IL)-1ra, IL-1β, IL-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-10).

Sleep quality was also assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and a Fitbit activity tracker.

“What we saw was that intake of the specific probiotic strains suggests a favourable impact on anticipatory stress and sleep quality,”​ explains Dr Leyer.“Subjects receiving Bifidobacterium, UABla-12 reported a 22% improvement in sleep quality.”

Results breakdown

In discussing the results, the team suggested the within-group differences showed DDS-1 and UABla-12 may ameliorate the biological impacts of this stress, and, that UABla-12 may also improve sleep quality.

“High rates of recovery of the ingested probiotic species were observed in the supplement groups, although large variation between subjects was observed,”​ the team wrote.

“Further, while both probiotic supplements contained identical numbers of colony forming units, the UABla-12 strain elicited a greater fold-change in faecal recovery.”

The team goes onto point out that probiotic supplementation may have moderated changes in stress key markers, the acute phase response and the immune system.

“Our observation that night shift did not induce changes in serum cytokines is in contrast with other research. Sleep deprivation in humans has been shown to alter serum cytokine concentration, the expression of toll like receptors and adhesion markers.

“While research has shown that probiotics and modifying the gut microbiota can reduce the effects of acute and chronic stress the authors are unaware of other research examining a role for probiotics in anticipatory stress.”

Lead Researcher Dr Nic West from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland adds that “Probiotic supplements have a history of use in respiratory and gastrointestinal health.

“This study, one of the first examining the use of probiotics for sleep and the gut-brain axis, provides initial support for supplementing with specific probiotic strains for anticipation stress.”

Source: Front. Immunol.

Published online:

“Probiotics, Anticipation Stress, and the Acute Immune Response to Night Shift.”

Authors: Nicholas West et al.

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