Postbiotic shows efficacy for immune system support: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Paul Bradbury / Getty Images
© Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Related tags postbiotics Gut health microbiome Lactobacillus acidophilus immune support

Supplementation with heat-killed Lactobacillus acidophilus L-92 postbiotic may boost antiviral immunity in healthy adults, says results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study from Japan.

Data published in Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics​ indicated that eight weeks of supplementation with the postbiotic increased measures of both intestinal and systemic immunity, and alleviated the early symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

Specifically, data from the study, which included 180 people aged between 20 and 64, showed that symptoms, such as cough, throat discomfort, and hoarseness were improved in the postbiotic group, compared to placebo.

The study was performed by Japan’s Asahi Quality and Innovations, and used the sterilized cells of the company’s Lactobacillus acidophilus strain, L-92, which is delivered as a powder. The ingredient is distributed in the US by Maypro.


Postbiotics are defined as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host” (Salminen, et al. 2021, Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol​)

"The area of postbiotics and synbiotics is undergoing tremendous growth as we better understand their potential to influence and beneficially modulate various physiological processes.” said Denis Alimonti, Director of U.S. Nutrition at Maypro.

“L-92’s previous studies relate to atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis immune response. This latest clinical study further demonstrates L-92’s beneficial impact on both the innate and adaptive immune system response. When we couple this with good formulation stability and a strong safety record, we believe L-92 is a dynamic ingredient and well positioned to grow within the postbiotics category.”

Study details

The scientists recruited 180 adults to participate in their randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 20 billion cells of L-92 or maltose placebo for eight weeks. The study was performed between July 2021 and September 2021.

The results at the end of the study showed that the L-92 supplemented group displayed improvements in local symptoms, such as cough and sore throat, and subjective symptoms, such as fatigue and chills.

The L-92 group also had increased levels of Bacteroides spp. and intestinal IgA.

Importantly, the L-92 group experienced activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which, in addition to their innate protective function, are key players in shaping our body's adaptive response to viruses.

“L-92 activates not only intestinal but also systemic immunity and alleviates typical early symptoms of viral infections in the upper respiratory tract and systemic symptoms, including the common cold, suggesting that L-92 might be a beneficial tool to enhance antiviral immunity in humans,” concluded the researchers.

Source: Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Volume 50, Issue 9, Pages 1699–1707, doi: 
“Oral intake of ​Lactobacillus acidophius L-92 on systemic and intestinal immune parameters: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial"
Authors: M. Sasai, et al. 

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