Study highlights anti-inflammatory immune effects of BLIS K12

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© azatvaleev / Getty Image
© azatvaleev / Getty Image

Related tags Blis Probiotics Oral health immune support Anti-inflammatory

Consuming the probiotic Streptococcus salivarius BLIS K12 can induce a regulatory, anti-inflammatory peripheral immune response, according to a new study from New Zealand.

BLIS is one of the best-known probiotics for oral health, and was developed by scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand. It is a specific strain of Streptococcus salivarius​ (S. salivarius​), which secretes powerful antimicrobial molecules called BLIS: Bacteriocin-Like-Inhibitory Substances.

There are different BLIS ingredients available, including K12 and M18: K12 supports ENT health and M18 supports teeth and gum health.

The new study indicated that BLIS K12 may also induce an anti-inflammatory immune response, increasing Treg frequency and levels of IL-10 production. Results of the double-blinded, placebo-controlled human clinical trial were published in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.

Researchers from the University of Otago and BLIS Technologies also report that levels of the pro-inflammatory IL-6 were decreased after K12 ingestion, while IL-12 levels were found to be increased seven days after ingestion of a single dose of K12, which may “suggest an ongoing activated immune response”,​ said the researchers.

“Taken together, our data indicate that ​S. salivarius BLIS K12 can induce peripheral immune responses, and the balance and implications of these immune responses are worthy of further study,” ​they added.

BLIS: “We are keen to explore further”

John Hale, PhD, Blis Technologies’ Chief Technology Officer and co-author on the new paper, told NutraIngredients-USA that the study relates to the company’s interest in better understanding the role for S. salivarius​ (in this case, strain BLIS K12) in the intestine.

“With a growing number of publications showing the intestine is a natural ecological site for ​Streptococcus salivarius, in addition to the human oral cavity, we supported this clinical trial with the University of Otago to assess the systemic immune response to a single application of ​S. salivarius K12.  

Dr Hale added that the study does open up BLIS K12 as a potential immune support probiotic. “This [study] demonstrates some early evidence for this role which we are keen to explore further. Commercially, we are considering how this work relates to the bigger picture of providing both oral and intestinal benefits to the consumer.”

Study details

Led by Otago’s Dr Roslyn Kemp, the researchers recruited 60 adults (the majority of them were aged between 18 and 30) to participate in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of either placebo or 10 billion CFUs of BLIS K12. “S. salivarius BLIS K12 is typically sold in a chewable tablet (suckable lozenge) format at a concentration of 1 × 109 cfu/lozenge. A dose of 1 × 1010​ cfu​ S. salivarius BLIS K12 was chosen for use in this study as this was considered to be a relatively high, but safe, dose to administer,”​ explained Dr Kemp and her co-workers. For this study, the placebo and probiotic were provided as powders to be mixed with water and swallowed.

Results from the 53 people who completed the study showed that K12 led to statistically significant increases in levels of IL-8 24 hours after ingestion, while The frequency of Tregs were increased seven days after probiotic consumption, said the researchers.

In addition, IL-10 levels were higher one week after consumption, compared to 24 hours.

“The mechanism of action by which ​S. salivarius K12 stimulates the immune response is unknown,” ​wrote the researchers. “S. salivarius K12 produces several bacteriocin molecules, and these are known to be effective anti-competitor molecules.”

Previous studies have shown that the potential anti-inflammatory effects are only observed when viable S. salivarius​, and not heat-killed bacteria are used, which suggests “that it is a product from the metabolic activity of the bacteria that are responsible for the observed effects.”

“The results support the hypothesis that the consumption of ​S. salivarius K12 may result in an anti-inflammatory systemic immune response, although follow-up studies using a larger cohort are now indicated,” ​they concluded.

Source: Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins
2021, published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s12602-021-09822-3
“Human Systemic Immune Response to Ingestion of the Oral Probiotic ​Streptococcus salivarius BLIS K12”
Authors: G.L. Laws, J.D.F. Hale & R.A. Kemp

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