Heat-killed Lactobacillus casei confers broad protection against influenza A virus primary infection and develops heterosubtypic immunity against future secondary infection

Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 12;7(1):17360. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8.


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are the common probiotics. Here, we investigated the antiviral protective effects of heat-killed LAB strain Lactobacillus casei DK128 (DK128) on influenza viruses. Intranasal treatment of mice with DK128 conferred protection against different subtypes of influenza viruses by lessening weight loss and lowering viral loads. Protection via heat-killed DK128 was correlated with an increase in alveolar macrophage cells in the lungs and airways, early induction of virus specific antibodies, reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and innate immune cells. Importantly, the mice that were protected against primary viral infection as a result of heat-killed DK128 pretreatment developed subsequent heterosubtypic immunity against secondary virus infection. For protection against influenza virus via heat-killed DK128 pretreatment, B cells and partially CD4 T cells but not CD8 T cells were required as inferred from studies using knockout mouse models. Our study provides insight into how hosts can be equipped with innate and adaptive immunity via heat-killed DK128 treatment to protect against influenza virus, supporting that heat-killed LAB may be developed as anti-virus probiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Coinfection / immunology
  • Coinfection / prevention & control*
  • Coinfection / virology
  • Cross Protection / drug effects
  • Cross Protection / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / isolation & purification
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / isolation & purification
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Lactobacillus casei / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load / drug effects