In vitro Th1 cytokine-independent Th2 suppressive effects of bifidobacteria

Microbiol Immunol. 2007;51(7):649-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2007.tb03953.x.


A comparison between 17 strains of lactic acid bacteria and 15 strains of bifidobacteria indicated that bifidobacteria induced significantly lower levels of interleukin-12 (IL-12) in murine splenic cells. The present study aims to evaluate the effect and mechanism of Bifidobacterium longum BB536, a probiotic strain, in suppressing antigen-induced Th2 immune response in vitro. BB536 suppressed immunoglobulin (Ig) E and IL-4 production by ovalbumin-sensitized splenic cells, but induction of Th1-inducing cytokine production, such as IL-12 and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) tended to be lower compared with lactic acid bacteria. Neutralization with antibodies to IL-12, IFN-gamma, IL-10 and transforming growth factor beta indicated negative involvement of Th1-inducing cytokines and regulatory cytokines in the suppression of Th2 immune response by BB536, especially when treated at higher doses of BB536 (>10 microg cells/ml). Furthermore, BB536 induced the maturation of immature bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DCs), and suppressed antigen-induced IL-4 production mediated by BM-DCs. These results suggested that BB536 suppressed Th2 immune responses, partially independent of Th1-inducing cytokines and independent of regulatory cytokines, mediated by antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / immunology
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin E / biosynthesis
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Lactobacillaceae / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Streptococcus / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin E