Intragastric administration of Mycobacterium vaccae inhibits severe pulmonary allergic inflammation in a mouse model

Clin Exp Allergy. 2005 May;35(5):685-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2005.02239.x.


Background: Coexistence with harmless microorganisms such as lactobacilli, saprophytic mycobacteria and some helminths, throughout evolution, may have shaped the host immune system. Exposure to such organisms may have therapeutic benefits by triggering immunoregulatory mechanisms that control inappropriate immune responses to self, gut contents or allergens.

Objective: We determined whether treatment with Mycobacterium vaccae by gavage influences the host immune response both locally and systemically. We also investigated whether delivery by this route prevents severe symptoms of disease in a murine model of pulmonary allergic inflammation.

Results: A single intragastric administration of M. vaccae induced a transient increase in the production of IL-10 and IFN-gamma by mesenteric lymph nodes cells and splenocytes. In addition, in a mouse model of pulmonary allergic inflammation, a single treatment with M. vaccae by gavage not only diminished the total cellular infiltrate and the eosinophilic component induced by subsequent intratracheal allergen challenge, but also biased local and systemic cytokine production towards IL-10. Delivery of M. vaccae by gavage was as effective as subcutaneous treatment.

Conclusion: This is the first report to suggest that heat-killed mycobacteria can down-regulate symptoms of allergic inflammation by the intragastric route. These data suggest an alternative route of treatment with M. vaccae for patients with allergic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Female
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Mesentery / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mycobacterium / immunology*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon-gamma