Effects of live and inactivated VSL#3 probiotic preparations in the modulation of in vitro and in vivo allergen-induced Th2 responses

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2009;150(2):133-43. doi: 10.1159/000218116. Epub 2009 May 11.


Background: The immunological mechanisms responsible for the immunomodulatory and anti-allergic effects of probiotic bacteria are still poorly defined. The combined effects of mixtures of different species of probiotic bacteria have been explored only in part. The present study describes the immunomodulatory activity of the VSL#3 probiotic preparation in in vitro and in vivo systems.

Methods: The activation and cytokine production by in vitro probiotic-stimulated bone-marrow dendritic cells (BM-DCs) and spleen cells isolated from naïve or Par j 1-sensitized mice were investigated. Mice were intranasally administered a sonicate preparation of VSL#3 before immunization with rPar j 1. Serum antibody levels and cytokine expression in the lung were determined.

Results: Both live and sonicated VSL#3 preparations induced maturation and cytokine production by BM-DCs. Cytokine production by spleen cells from naïve or Par j 1-sensitized mice was modulated by the probiotic preparations towards a Treg/Th0 profile, characterized by increased IL-10 and IFN-gamma production. In vivo prophylactic treatment with VSL#3 induced a significant reduction of serum specific IgG1. At lung level, VSL#3 pre-treatment remarkably reduced IL-13 and IL-4 mRNA expression and increased IL-10 expression.

Conclusions: The VSL#3 preparations have not only the capacity to bias primary immune responses towards a Treg/Th0-type profile, but also to modify in the same way the functional characteristics of established in vitro Th2 responses. In vivo studies on a mouse model of Par j 1 sensitization indicate that the prophylactic intranasal treatment with probiotic bacteria is able to modulate the development of Th2-biased responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Gene Expression / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-13 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Vaccination


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, CD
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor
  • Gata3 protein, mouse
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Par j I protein, Parietaria judaica
  • Plant Proteins
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • T-box transcription factor TBX21
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma