Background: Microbial intestinal colonization in early in life is regarded to play a major role for the maturation of the immune system. Application of non-pathogenic probiotic bacteria during early infancy might protect from allergic disorders but underlying mechanisms have not been analysed so far.
Objective: The aim of the current study was to investigate the immune effects of oral application of probiotic bacteria on allergen-induced sensitization and development of airway inflammation and airway hyper-reactivity, cardinal features of bronchial asthma.
Methods: Newborn Balb/c mice received orally 10(9) CFU every second day either Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Bifidobacterium lactis (Bb-12) starting from birth for consecutive 8 weeks, during systemic sensitization (six intraperitoneal injections, days 29-40) and airway challenge (days 54-56) with ovalbumin.
Results: The administration of either Bb-12 or LGG suppressed all aspects of the asthmatic phenotype: airway reactivity, antigen-specific immunoglobulin E production and pulmonary eosinophilia (mean: 137 vs. 17 and 13 cellsx10(3)/mL, respectively). Antigen-specific recall proliferation by spleen cells and T-helper type 2 cytokine production (IL-4, IL-5 and IL-10) by mesenteric lymph node cells also showed significant reduction, while TGF production remained unchanged. Oral LGG administration particularly suppressed allergen-induced proliferative responses and was associated with an increase in numbers of TGF-beta-secreting CD4+/CD3+ T cells in mesenteric lymph nodes (6.5, 16.7%) as well as nearly 2-fold up-regulation of Foxp3-expressing cells in peribronchial lymph nodes.
Conclusions: Neonatal application of probiotic bacteria inhibits subsequent allergic sensitization and airway disease in a murine model of asthma by induction of T regulatory cells associated with increased TGF-beta production.