Stress affects the immune system and intestinal microbiota composition and can lead to imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines or to uncontrolled production of cytokines. The effect of emotional stress on secretory IgA levels also indicates that stress decreases mucosal integrity. Our aim was to evaluate whether a probiotic product (Lactoflorene® Plus) can prevent alterations in the immune response associated with self-reported stress and microbiota composition. Healthy adult volunteers who self-reported psychological stress were enrolled and randomised into a placebo and a probiotic group. Salivary stress markers (α-amylase, cortisol, chromogranin A) and immunological parameters (sIgA, NK cell activity, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α) in feces and the composition of intestinal microbiota were evaluated. Administration of the product did not exert a direct effect on the salivary stress markers or NK cell activity but did reduce abdominal pain and increase faecal IgA and IL-10 levels. The probiotic product induced a moderate increase in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp., as expected, and in Faecalibacterium spp., and decreased the size of the Dialister spp. and Escherichia and Shigella populations. Administration of the product helped protect the mucosal barrier by supporting the number of short-chain fatty acid producers and decreasing the load of potentially harmful bacteria, thus reducing intestinal inflammation and abdominal discomfort.
Keywords: Abdominal pain; BB-12®; IgA; Immune response; LA-5®; Stress.