Probiotics, including Lactobacilli, have been postulated to alleviate allergic and inflammatory diseases, but evidence that they exert an anti-inflammatory effect by immune modulation of pathogenic T cell effectors is still lacking. The aim of this study was to examine whether L. casei could affect antigen-specific T cell-mediated skin inflammation. To this end, we used contact hypersensitivity to the hapten 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene, a model of allergic contact dermatitis mediated by CD8+ CTL and controlled by CD4+ regulatory T cells. Daily oral administration of fermented milk containing L. casei or L. casei alone decreased skin inflammation by inhibiting the priming/expansion of hapten-specific IFN-gamma-producing CD8+ effector T cells. The down-regulatory effect of the probiotics required the presence of CD4+ T cells, which control the size of the hapten-specific CD8+ T cell pool primed by skin sensitization. L. casei cell wall was as efficient as live L. casei to regulate both the CHS response and the hapten-specific CD8+ T cell response, suggesting that cell wall components contribute to the immunomodulatory effect of L. casei. This study provides the first evidence that oral administration of L. casei can reduce antigen-specific skin inflammation by controlling the size of the CD8+ effector pool.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.