Lactobacillus casei inhibits antigen-induced IgE secretion through regulation of cytokine production in murine splenocyte cultures

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 1998 Apr;115(4):278-87. doi: 10.1159/000069458.


Background: Lactobacillus casei is a nonpathogenic gram-positive bacterium widely used in dairy products and has been shown to enhance the cellular immunity of the host.

Methods: To examine the inhibitory effect of L. casei on IgE production, splenocytes obtained from ovalbumin (OVA)-primed BALB/c mice were restimulated in vitro with the same antigen in the presence of heat-killed L. casei. The effect of this bacterium on T helper (Th) phenotype development was also examined with naive T cells from OVA-specific T cell receptor-transgenic mice.

Results: L. casei induced IFN-gamma, but inhibited IL-4 and IL-5 secretion, and markedly suppressed total and antigen-specific IgE secretion by OVA-stimulated splenocytes. The inhibitory effect of L. casei on IgE, IL-4, and IL-5 production was partially abrogated by addition of neutralizing antibody to IFN-gamma. Augmented IL-12 production was also observed in the cell cultures containing L. casei, and anti-IL-12 monoclonal antibody completely restored the IgE, IL-4, and IL-5 production to the control levels. The IL-12 augmentation by L. casei was macrophage-dependent. The Th cell development assay showed the ability of L. casei to induce Th1 development preferentially. This effect was also completely blocked by anti-IL-12 antibody.

Conclusions: This is the first demonstration that a nonpathogenic microorganism, L. casei, can inhibit antigen-induced IgE production through induction of IL-12 secretion by macrophages. The findings suggest a potential use of this organism in preventing IgE-mediated allergy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin E / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-5 / biosynthesis
  • Lactobacillus casei / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin
  • Spleen / immunology*
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interleukin-4
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Ovalbumin