Evidence suggests that probiotic bacteria modulate both innate and adaptive immunity in the host, and in some situations can result in reduced severity of common illnesses, such as acute rotavirus infection and respiratory infections. Responses to vaccination are increasingly being used to provide high quality information on the immunomodulatory effects of dietary components in humans. The present review focuses on the effect of probiotic administration upon vaccination response. The majority of studies investigating the impact of probiotics on responses to vaccination have been conducted in healthy adults, and at best they show modest effects of probiotics on serum or salivary IgA titres. Studies in infants and in elderly subjects are very limited, and it is too early to draw any firm conclusions regarding the potential for probiotics to act as adjuvants in vaccination. Although some studies are comparable in terms of duration of the intervention, age and characteristics of the subjects, most differ in terms of the probiotic selected. Further well designed, randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to understand fully the immunomodulatory properties of probiotics, whether the effects exerted are strain-dependent and age-dependent and their clinical relevance in enhancing immune protection following vaccination.
© 2012 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.