A highlight of the American College of Gastroenterology’s 2011 Scientific Meeting was a report on the significant benefits of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 “as an anti-inflammatory agent” in a trial including patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis.
B infantis, a primary inhabitant of the digestive tract of newborn infants, is considered essential for good health in both infants and adults.
Clinical Trial Findings
According to the report on this yet-to-be-published research:
Microbial imbalance has been proposed as one possible explanation for the increased incidence of a wide range of inflammatory disorders, including ulcerative colitis. This suggests that altering the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut may promote an immune regulatory response that could reduce inflammation.
Accordingly, researchers at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork and Alimentary Health Ltd in Cork, Ireland, aimed to determine if B. infantis could influence systemic pro-inflammatory biomarkers in patients with inflammatory disease.
The double-blind, placebo controlled study - “Oral Administration of the Probiotic Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624 to Humans Induces Immunoregulatory Responses in Vivo” - included healthy volunteers, and 27 patients with psoriasis, 24 with ulcerative colitis, and 50 with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The results of the eight-week study indicated that:
• Plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, were significantly increased in healthy volunteers and psoriasis patients, but not in placebo treated patients;
• While plasma levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-6 were significantly reduced in all patient groups that received B. infantis.
• In addition, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were also significantly reduced in psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue patients at the end of treatment with B. infantis compared to placebo treated patients. [Elevated CRP in the blood is a key indicator of acute or chronic inflammation associated with a wide range of acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.]
“The human immunological response to B infantis further supports the hypothesis that manipulation of the microbiota with specific therapeutic microbes can have a significant effect on host inflammatory processes,” says Eamonn M M Quigley, MD, FACG, who presented the findings.
“This anti-inflammatory effect is not restricted to a specific disease state, suggesting that B. infantis induces a critical cellular response, which may include the induction of regulatory cell subsets,” Dr. Quigley concludes.
Sources: American College of Gastroenterology news release, Oct 31, 2011; ACG 2011 Scientific Meeting Poster P238 abstract.