Clinical trial backs probiotic strain to help reduce cold and flu in times of stress

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Daily consumption of the probiotic strain B. infantis could help those at higher risk of cold and flu to reduce their risk, new research has suggested.
Daily consumption of the probiotic strain B. infantis could help those at higher risk of cold and flu to reduce their risk, new research has suggested.

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Regular consumption of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 is associated with more ‘healthy days’ and a lower reporting of cold or flu, according to new research in academically stressed student

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition​, investigated the effects of three different probiotic strains on the proportion of ‘healthy days’ and cold and flu symptoms reported in a six week period in a group of academically stressed students.

Led by Professor Bobbi Langkamp-Henken from the University of Florida the research team noted that acute psychological stress has been shown to be positively associated with a cold and flu incidence, while other research has suggested that supplementation with certain prebiotics and probiotics have been associated with lower cold and flu symptom intensity and a reduction in the percentage of days with a cold flu in stressed students.

The results of the current randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study –backed by probiotic ingredients supplier Lallemand - suggests that “daily intake of ​Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 [also known as B. bifidum CNCM I-3426​] provides benefits related to cold and flu outcomes during acute psychological stress.”

“With ​Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 we saw a reduction in the percentage of participants who became ill and fewer episodes of cold/flu compared with the placebo.  There was also a trend toward fewer episodes of cold/flu with ​Bifidobacterium infantis R0033,”​ said Langkamp-Henken.

Dr Stéphanie-Anne Girard, clinical program manager at Lallemand Health Solutions said: “Scientifically, it is very interesting for us to look at the individual strain effects and such a design is part of our global integrated research program aimed at investigating the interactions of our individual strains with the immune system.”

Research details

The study examined the effect of three potentially probiotic bacteria on the proportion of healthy days over a 6-week period in 581 academically stressed undergraduate students who received Lactobacillus helveticus R0052​, Bifidobacterium longum ssp. infantis R0033​, Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071​ or placebo.

On each day, participants recorded the intensity (scale: 0 = not experiencing to 3 = very intense) for nine cold/flu symptoms, and a sum of symptom intensity, where a score of more than 6 was designated as a day of cold or flu.

According to the trial findings, daily consumption B. bifidum resulted in a greater proportion of healthy days than placebo, while the percentage of participants reporting less than one day of cold/flu during the 6-week intervention period was also found to be significantly lower with B. bifidum than with placebo.

“There were no effects of ​B. infantis or ​L. helveticus compared with placebo on either outcome,”​ said the researchers.

Synergistic effect?

Girard added that the clinical trial results, which evaluated the individual effects of the three probiotic strains found in combination in Lallemand’s ProbioKid formula, should also be considered in the context of previous clinical data on the complete ProbioKid formula and additional mechanistic host-microbe interaction studies.

“When taken individually, the three strains are able to specifically modulate the immune response while, when taken together, the strain combination shows even more potent significant benefits, illustrating potential synergies between the different strains,”​ said Girard. “These in vitro results will be presented at Probiota 2015 in Amsterdam next week.”

Probiota 2015

Lallemand will present data on host-microbe interactions and the impact of its multi strain probiotic formulation on intestinal epithelial cells at the upcoming Probiota 2015 conference, held in Amsterdam next week.

The annual event, which links top academic research to industry development and business strategy, will cover a host of topics.

From the next wave of prebiotics​ to the future of microbiome science beyond probiotics and prebiotics​, to the effect on mood and anxiety​, and strategies on pre- and probiotic market building​, Probiota 2015 is a knowledge store you probably shouldn’t miss.

Click here​ for more.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1017/S0007114514003997
“Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 results in a greater proportion of healthy days and a lower percentage of academically stressed students reporting a day of cold/flu: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study”
Authors: Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, et al

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