Immunomodulatory effects of probiotics: Can they be used to treat allergies and autoimmune diseases?

Maturitas. 2019 Jan:119:25-38. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.11.002. Epub 2018 Nov 12.


As a person ages, physiological, immunological and gut microbiome changes collectively result in an array of chronic conditions. According to the 'hygiene hypothesis' the increasing prevalence of immune-mediated disorders may be related to intestinal dysbiosis, leading to immune dysfunction and associated conditions such as eczema, asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Beneficial probiotic bacteria can be utilized by increasing their abundance within the gastrointestinal lumen, which in turn will modulate immune cells, such as, T helper (Th)-1, Th2, Th17, regulatory T (Treg) cells and B cells, which have direct relevance to human health and the pathogenesis of immune disorders. Here, we describe the cross-talk between probiotics and the gastrointestinal immune system, and their effects in relation to inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, allergies and atopic dermatitis.

Keywords: Dysbiosis; Gastrointestinal tract; Inflammatory bowel disease; Lactic acid bacteria; Probiotics; Symbiosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Mononuclear Phagocyte System / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Probiotics*