Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;67(2):161-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.197. Epub 2013 Jan 9.


Background/objectives: Probiotics are defined as 'living micro-organisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host'. Different probiotic strains have been investigated for beneficial effects on allergic disorders. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effect of orally administering the probiotic Nestlé culture collection (NCC)2818 Bifidobacterium lactis strain on immune parameters and nasal symptom scores in subjects suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR).

Subjects/methods: The study was a double-blinded, parallel, randomized placebo-controlled trial conducted during the peak of the pollen season. Adult subjects with clinical history of SAR and positive skin prick test to grass pollen were recruited. The subjects received B. lactis NCC2818 or placebo for 8 weeks and completed symptom questionnaires every week. Whole blood was collected at baseline (V1), 4 weeks (V2) and 8 weeks (V3) to measure immune parameters.

Results: Concentrations of Th-2 cytokines, secreted by stimulated blood lymphocytes, were significantly lower in the probiotic group compared with the placebo group at V3 (interleukin (IL)-5, P=0.016; IL-13, P=0.005). Total nasal symptom scores were significantly lower in the second month of the study (weeks 5-8) in the probiotic group compared with the placebo group (P=0.03). Also, percentages of activated CD63 expressing basophils were significantly lower in the probiotic group at V2 (P=0.02).

Conclusions: Oral administration of the probiotic NCC2818 mitigates immune parameters and allergic symptoms during seasonal exposure. These promising results warrant that B. lactis NCC2818 be investigated further in large-scale trials for management of respiratory allergy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basophils / metabolism
  • Bifidobacterium*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Interleukin-13 / blood
  • Interleukin-5 / blood
  • Interleukins / blood*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nose
  • Poaceae / immunology
  • Pollen / immunology*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / blood
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / complications
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / drug therapy*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology
  • Seasons
  • Species Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tetraspanin 30
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukins
  • Tetraspanin 30