Probiotics: a novel approach in the management of food allergy.J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997; 99(2):179-85JA
The gastrointestinal microflora is an important constituent of the gut mucosal defense barrier. We have previously shown that a human intestinal floral strain, Lactobacillus GG (ATCC 53103), promotes local antigen-specific immune responses (particularly in the IgA class), prevents permeability defects, and confers controlled antigen absorption.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical and immunologic effects of cow's milk elimination without (n = 14) and with (n = 13) the addition of Lactobacillus GG (5 x 10(8) colony-forming units/gm formula) in an extensively hydrolyzed whey formula in infants with atopic eczema and cow's milk allergy. The second part of the study involved 10 breast-fed infants who had atopic eczema and cow's milk allergy. In this group Lactobacillus GG was given to nursing mothers.
The severity of atopic eczema was assessed by clinical scoring. The concentrations of fecal alpha 1- antitrypsin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and eosinophil cationic protein were determined as markers of intestinal inflammation before and after dietary intervention.
The clinical score of atopic dermatitis improved significantly during the 1-month study period in infants treated with the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula fortified with Lactobacillus GG. The concentration of alpha 1-antitrypsin decreased significantly in this group (p = 0.03) but not in the group receiving the whey formula without Lactobacillus GG (p = 0.68). In parallel, the median (lower quartile to upper quartile) concentration of fecal tumor necrosis factor-alpha decreased significantly in this group, from 709 pg/gm (91 to 1131 pg/gm) to 34 pg/gm (19 to 103 pg/gm) (p = 0.003), but not in those receiving the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula only (p = 0.38). The concentration of fecal eosinophil cationic protein remained unaltered during therapy.
These results suggest that probiotic bacteria may promote endogenous barrier mechanisms in patients with atopic dermatitis and food allergy, and by alleviating intestinal inflammation, may act as a useful tool in the treatment of food allergy.