The study, published in the journal Nutrients, investigated the effect of Guanke Immunobiotics (Maiyata Inc., Shaoxing, China), a probiotic mixture of Guanke (Lactobacillus plantarum, CGMCC No. 21720) freeze-dried with maltodextrin, cranberry fruit powder, erythritol, isomaltulose and vitamin C, initially developed to improve immune responses to the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Guanke strain of Lactobacillus plantarum has previously shown promise in modulating SARS-CoV-2 specific immune responses through enhancing interferon signalling and suppressing apoptotic and inflammatory pathways by acting as an immunomodulator role via maintaining Th1/Th2 balance.
The current study therefore aimed to determine if the probiotic can be a candidate immunobiotic for the treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR).
“This study demonstrated the Lactobacillus plantarum ‘Guanke’ can serve as an effective immunobiotic for the treatment of AR, which is realized through maintaining the Th1/Th2 balance by modulating the functions of various cytokines and chemokines,” the authors from China wrote in the journal Nutrients.
Allergic rhinitis pathogenesis
Estimated to affect 10–20% of the global population, AR is a global inflammatory disease affecting the nasal mucosa that is characterized by symptoms such as a stuffy, itchy and runny nose, accompanied by eye-related issues.
The production of AR is related to the occurrence of the T helper 2 (Th2) immune response. The interaction of multiple cytokines secreted by Th1 and Th2 cells leads to imbalanced T lymphocyte differentiation and the release of large amounts of histamines.
Long-term use of pharmaceutical treatments for AR can be accompanied by undesirable side effects, but research shows that probiotics can act as an immunomodulator to activate the host defence and regulate the immune response in the respiratory system. Some Lactobacillus species, for example, have been reported to have strong immunomodulatory ability in respiratory diseases.
Guanke reduces nasal symptom scores
The study recruited 47 adult subjects with perennial AR between the ages of 18 and 60 and administered 1.5 g of Guanke probiotic treatment (5.0 × 1010 CFU per day) for four weeks.
Participants completed questionnaires of total nasal symptom scores (TNSS), total non-nasal symptom score (TNNSS) and rhinitis control assessment test (RCAT) before and after treatment. Serum allergen-specific IgE and cytokines were also determined at baseline and after four weeks of treatment.
Findings indicated that TNSS and TNNSS were significantly reduced and the RCAT score was significantly increased compared to baseline. The sub-symptom score of rhinorrhea, itching, sneezing and tearing in each questionnaire also showed significant changes, and the serum IgE level was markedly decreased.
Further measures of inflammatory-related proteins in serum found that a total of 20 proteins (6 upregulated and 14 downregulated) were significantly changed compared to baseline. Enrichment analysis showed that these significantly altered proteins were mainly enriched in cytokine and chemokine-related signalling pathways.
“Our results clearly indicated that Guanke probiotic can significantly improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis,” the authors concluded.
They noted limitations to the study, namely that the sample size was relatively small, and only two time point comparisons were made.
"Probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum GUANKE effectively alleviates allergic rhinitis symptoms by modulating functions of various cytokines and chemokines"
Authors: Haijun Han et al.