Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis JCM5805 has been shown to be a rare lactic acid bacterium that can activate plasmacytoid dendritic cells in both murine and human species. In this study, we carried out a randomised placebo-controlled double-blind experiment to evaluate its effect on the pathogenesis of influenza-like illness during the winter season. A total of 213 volunteers were divided into two groups, which received either yogurt made with L. lactis JCM5805 or a placebo beverage daily for 10 weeks. In the JCM5805 group, the cumulative incidence days of 'cough' and 'feverishness', which are defined as major symptoms of an influenza-like illness, were significantly decreased compared with the placebo group. In addition, peripheral blood mononuclear cells prepared from volunteers were cultured in the presence of inactivated human influenza virus A/H1N1 (A/PR/8/34). IFN-α elicited by A/H1N1 tended to be higher in the JCM5805 group compared with the placebo group, and an IFN-α-inducible antiviral factor, interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), elicited by A/H1N1 was significantly higher in the JCM5805 group compared with the placebo group after the intake period. These results suggest that intake of JCM5805 is able to prevent the pathogenesis of an influenza-like illness via enhancement of an IFN-α-mediated response to the influenza virus.
Keywords: IFN interferon; ISG15 interferon-stimulated gene 15; Influenza virus; LAB lactic acid bacteria; Lactococcus lactis JCM5805; PBMC peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Plasmacytoid dendritic cells; Type I interferon; pDC plasmacytoid dendritic cells.