The composition of the gut microbiota plays a role in the development of allergies. Based on the immunomodulating capacities of bacteria, various studies have investigated the potential role for probiotics in the prevention of childhood eczema. In a previous study we have shown that significantly less children developed eczema after probiotic supplementation (Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis W52 and Lactococcus lactis W58, Ecologic(®)Panda) at three months of age as compared to controls. Here, metabolites in faecal samples of these 3-month old children were measured by (1)H-nuclear magnetic resonance to investigate possible gut metabolic alterations. Lower amounts of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), succinate, phenylalanine and alanine were found in faecal samples of children later developing eczema, whereas the amounts of glucose, galactose, lactate and lactose were higher compared to the children not developing eczema. Although these differences were already present at the age of 3 months, eczema did not develop in the majority of children before the age of 1 year. Supplementation of multispecies probiotics seems to induce higher levels of lactate and SCFAs, and lower levels of lactose and succinate when compared with the placebo group. This might explain the temporary preventive effect of probiotics on the development of eczema. These results highlight the role bacterial metabolites may play in development of the immune system, even before clinical manifestations of allergic disease arise.
Keywords: atopy; intestinal microbiota; metabolites; probiotics.