Ingestion of probiotics appears to have modest effects on the incidence of viral respiratory infection. The mechanism of these effects is not clear; however, there is evidence from animal models that the probiotic may have an effect on innate immune responses to pathogens. The purpose of this randomised, placebo-controlled study was to determine the effect of administration of Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis Bl-04 on innate and adaptive host responses to experimental rhinovirus challenge. The effect on the response of chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 8 (CXCL8) to rhinovirus infection was defined as the primary endpoint for the study. 152 seronegative volunteers who had been supplemented for 28 days, 73 with probiotic and 79 with placebo, were challenged with RV-A39. Supplement or placebo administration was then continued for five days during collection of specimens for assessment of host response, infection, and symptoms. 58 probiotic and 57 placebo-supplemented volunteers met protocol-defined criteria for analysis. Probiotic resulted in higher nasal lavage CXCL8 on day 0 prior to virus challenge (90 vs 58 pg/ml, respectively, P=0.04, ANCOVA). The CXCL8 response to rhinovirus infection in nasal lavage was significantly reduced in the probiotic treated group (P=0.03, ANCOVA). Probiotic was also associated with a reduction in nasal lavage virus titre and the proportion of subjects shedding virus in nasal secretions (76% in the probiotic group, 91% in the placebo group, P=0.04, Fisher Exact test). The administration of probiotic did not influence lower respiratory inflammation (assessed by exhaled nitric oxide), subjective symptom scores, or infection rate. This study demonstrates that ingestion of Bl-04 may have an effect on the baseline state of innate immunity in the nose and on the subsequent response of the human host to rhinovirus infection. Clinicaltrials.gov registry number: NCT01669603.
Keywords: common cold; innate immunity; upper respiratory infection.