A rise in the occurrence of allergic diseases is attributed to the dysregulated balance of type 1/type 2 immunity, where type 2 T-helper (Th2) cells predominate over type 1 T-helper (Th1) cells, leading to an abnormally increased production of IgE in response to unharmful antigens. Kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented food, is a rich source of beneficial lactic acid bacteria. In this study, we investigated the ability of Enterococcus faecium FC-K derived from kimchi to induce type I immunity in the presence of Th2 polarizing conditions in vitro and in vivo. Stimulation of mouse peritoneal macrophages with E. faecium FC-K induced the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-12. Under the in vitro Th2 conditions in which splenic T cells were activated in the presence of IL-4, E. faecium FC-K enhanced the ability of T cells to produce interferon (IFN)-γ. Using the ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergy model, male BALB/c mice receiving E. faecium FC-K reduced the serum level of total IgE, but not that of OVA-specific IgE. Furthermore, the population of activated splenic B cells during OVA immunization was decreased in E. faecium FC-K-treated mice, accounting for a reduction of total IgE in the serum. Restimulating splenocytes from OVA-immunized mice with OVA ex vivo resulted in an increased production of IFN-γ, with no effect on IL-4, in E. faecium FC-Ktreated mice. These observations provide the evidence that E. faecium FC-K can be a beneficial probiotic strain that can modulate the Th2-mediated pathologic response.
Keywords: Enterococcus faecium; IgE; T cells; allergy; kimchi.