Aberrant composition of gut microbiota of allergic infants:
a target of bifidobacterial therapy at weaning?
PV, Arvola T, Salminen SJ, Isolauri E.
of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry, University of Turku,
Recent data have outlined a relationship between the composition
of the intestinal microflora and allergic inflammation,
and demonstrated the competence of probiotics in downregulation
of such inflammation. AIMS: Our aims were to characterise
the relationship between gut microbes and the extent of
allergic sensitisation and to assess whether the efficacy
of bifidobacterial supplementation in the treatment of allergy
could relate to modulation of the intestinal microbiota.
METHODS: This randomised study included 21 infants with
early onset atopic eczema of whom eight were intolerant
(highly sensitised group (HSG)) and 13 tolerant (sensitised
group (SG)) to extensively hydrolysed whey formula (EHF).
In the SG, six were weaned to EHF without (placebo group
(PG)) and seven to EHF with Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12
supplementation (bifidobacteria treated group (BbG)). The
faecal microflora of infants in the HSG was analysed only
before weaning whereas in the SG the faecal microflora was
analysed both before and after weaning. RESULTS: Infants
in the HSG had greater numbers of lactobacilli/enterococci
than those in the SG. Serum total IgE concentration correlated
directly with Escherichia coli counts in all infants and
with bacteroides counts in the HSG, indicating that the
presence of these bacteria is associated with the extent
of atopic sensitisation. The effect of supplementation was
characterised as a decrease in the numbers of Escherichia
coli and protection against an increase in bacteroides numbers
during weaning. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that bifidobacterial
supplementation appears to modify the gut microbiota in
a manner that may alleviate allergic inflammation. Further
studies are needed to confirm this conclusion.
Gut. 2002 Jul;51(1):51-5
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