Female mice fed a diet supplemented with the prebiotics had a better immune response to a flu vaccine than mice not receiving the supplements, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.
“This study addressed the link between changing gut microbial community structure and metabolites, thereby improving vaccine-specific immune responses,” wrote researchers from Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, USA), Danone Nutricia Research (The Netherlands), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA).
“This study provides a novel strategy for the optimization of vaccine efficacy. In addition, the observed beneficial effects of [these prebiotics] may improve the immune system by optimizing gut microbiota composition and metabolic function.”
Prebiotics are defined as "non-digestible substances that provide a beneficial physiological effect on the host by selectively stimulating the favorable growth or activity of a limited number of indigenous bacteria".
The prebiotic potential of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) have been reported many times in the literature.
Human milk oligosaccharides, or HMOs, form a significant portion of human breast milk (about 12%) but they are not easily digested. Experts postulate that their purpose is to jump-start the infant’s microbiome (ie. they’re prebiotics).
The majority of the focus to-date has been on 2´-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) because it’s the most abundant HMO in human milk, but lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT) is also commercially available.
Players actively investigating HMOs include DuPont, Friesland Campina, Glycom A/S, Evolve Bioscience, Abbott, Danone, and Nestlé.
The new study used 2’-FL combined with scGOS and lcFOS to replace 2.2% (wt/wt) of carbohydrates in the standard mouse diet. Mice were randomly assigned to receive a standard diet or the prebiotic supplemented diet for 45 days. After 14 days of intervention, the mice were given a flu vaccine, and they received a booster vaccination at day 21.
Results showed that, compared to mice consuming the control diet, mice fed the prebiotic diet had significantly higher immune responses, including 3.2-fold and 1.2-fold increases in IgG1 and IgG2a, respectively. The prebiotic-fed mice also had statistically significant higher percentages of activated immune cells, including B cells, regulatory T cells, and T-helper 1 cells, said the researchers.
“We demonstrate that a dietary intervention with a combination of 2′FL and scGOS/lcFOS, more effectively enhances mucosal immune responsiveness to influenza vaccination,” wrote the researchers. “Specifically, we demonstrate that a GF2F diet–induced improvement in vaccine responses is modulated via intestinal mucosal sites by inducing profound changes within immune cells, microbial composition, and metabolites. This reveals a key role for microbiota in promoting immunity to vaccinations.
“Our findings may provide for a novel and effective strategy to improve the vaccine responsiveness by targeting the mucosal immune system.”
Source: Journal of Nutrition
Volume 149, Number 5, Pages 856–869, doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz006
“The Combination of 2′-Fucosyllactose with Short-Chain Galacto-Oligosaccharides and Long-Chain Fructo-Oligosaccharides that Enhance Influenza Vaccine Responses Is Associated with Mucosal Immune Regulation in Mice”
Authors: L. Xiao et al.