Lactobacilli isolated from Kimchi, a Korean traditional food, were tested for their capacity to modulate the T helper (Th) 1/Th2 balance. Ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized mouse splenocytes were cultured with 26 strains of lactobacilli; the highest IL-12 induction and lowest IL-4 production were then observed in 4 strains, including Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP55, CJLP56, CJLP133, and CJLP136. These strains produced a larger amount of IL-12, which enhances differentiation and activation of Th1 cells, in macrophage cell-lines more than positive control strains L. casei KCTC 3109(T) and L. rhamnosus GG, although they also induced production of IL-10, which is a suppressor of IL-12. Indeed, CJLP133-stimulated macrophages induced production of more Th1 cytokine IFN-γ and less Th2 cytokine IL-4 than KCTC 3109(T) and GG in co-cultivation with T cells. These findings suggest that lactobacilli from Kimchi may modulate the Th1/Th2 balance via macrophage activation in the hypersensitive reaction caused by Th2 cells.
Practical application: Allergic reactions including asthma and atopy are caused by predominance of Th2 response over Th1 response. Lactobacilli isolated from fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese, and Kimchi showed health-promoting activities. The present study indicated that several lactobacilli strains from Kimchi may reduce allergic reactions through macrophage-mediated induction of Th1 response.