A specific mixture of short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides induces a beneficial immunoglobulin profile in infants at high risk for allergy

Allergy. 2009 Mar;64(3):484-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01765.x. Epub 2008 May 27.


Background: It has been suggested that human breast milk oligosaccharides play a role in the development of the immune system in infants, and may consequently inhibit the onset of allergy. A specific prebiotic mixture of short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (GOS/FOS) has been shown to reduce the incidence of atopic dermatitis (AD) at 6 months of age in infants at risk for allergy.

Aim of the study: This study was aimed to analyze the effect of GOS/FOS on the immune response in these infants.

Methods: In a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study, infants received a hypoallergenic whey formula with either 8 g/l GOS/FOS in a 9 : 1 ratio (IMMUNOFORTIS) or 8 g/l maltodextrine (placebo) for 6 months. At 3 months of age, children were vaccinated with Hexavac against a.o. diphteria, tetanus, polio (DTP). At 6 months of age, plasma samples were collected from 84 infants (verum group n = 41, placebo group n = 43). Levels of total immunoglobulins (Ig) and of cow's milk protein (CMP-) and DTP-specific Ig were measured.

Results: GOS/FOS supplementation led to a significant reduction in the plasma level of total IgE, IgG1, IgG2 and IgG3, whereas no effect on IgG4 was observed. CMP-specific IgG1 was significantly decreased. DTP-specific Ig levels were not affected.

Conclusions: This study shows that GOS/FOS supplementation induces a beneficial antibody profile. GOS/FOS reduces the total Ig response and modulates the immune response towards CMP, while leaving the response to vaccination intact. This suggests that oral GOS/FOS supplementation is a safe method to restrain the atopic march.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Milk / immunology
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / immunology
  • Oligosaccharides / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Immunoglobulin E