Mucosal immunology and probiotics

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013 Feb;13(1):19-26. doi: 10.1007/s11882-012-0313-0.


The cross-talk between the mucosa-associated immune system and microbiota is critical in mucosal tissue homeostasis as well as in protection against infectious and inflammatory diseases occurring at mucosal sites. This recent evidence has paved the way to therapeutic approaches aimed at modulating the mucosa-associated immune system using probiotics. Different strains of probiotics possess the ability to finely regulate dendritic cell (DC) activation, polarizing the subsequent T cell activity toward Th1 (e.g. Lactobacillus (Lb) acidophilus), Th2 (Lb.reuteri and Bifidobacterium bifidum) or, as more recently demonstrated, Th17 responses induced by specific strains such as Lb.rhamnosus GG and Lac23a, the latter isolated in our laboratory. Here, we review some recent advances in our understanding of probiotics effects on mucosal immunology, particularly on cells of the innate immunity such as DCs. We also highlight our own experiences in modulating DC functions by commensal bacteria and discuss the relevance of probiotics administration in the treatment of human immunopathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunity, Mucosal / physiology*
  • Lactobacillus / physiology
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology*
  • Probiotics / metabolism*