Singh A., Sarangi A.N., Goel A., Srivastava R., Bhargava R., Gaur P., Aggarwal A., Aggarwal R.


Departments of Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, 226014, India.


Background: Probiotics have been shown to be useful for the treatment of many disease conditions. These beneficial effects are believed to be mediated by change in the composition of gut microbiota and modulation of the host immune responses. However, the available data on the effect of probiotics on these parameters are quite limited.

Methods: We studied the composition of fecal microbiota, using 16S rRNA sequencing, and host immune responses in peripheral blood (plasma cytokine levels, T cell subsets and in vitro cytokine production after stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 antibody or lipopolysaccharide) in a group of 14 healthy women at three time-points – before and after administration of a probiotic preparation (a capsule of VSL#3, each containing 112.5 billion freeze-dried bacterial cells belonging to 8 species, twice a day for 4 weeks), and 4-weeks after discontinuation of the probiotic administration.

Results: There was no change in the abundance of various bacterial taxa as well as in the alpha diversity of gut microbiota following administration of the probiotic, or following its discontinuation. Probiotic administration led to a reduction in the relative frequency of circulating Th17 cells, and in vitro production of cytokines in whole-blood cultures in response to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. However, it had no effect on the relative frequencies of Th1, Th2 and T regulatory cells among circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells, on plasma cytokine levels and on in vitro production of cytokines by T cells.

Conclusions: We found that VSL#3 administration did not lead to any changes in gut flora, but led to a reduction in the frequency of Th17 cells and in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine on lipopolysaccharide stimulation. These findings suggest that the beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of this preparation in patients with autoimmune and allergic disorders may be related to reduced production of monocyte-derived cytokines rather than to changes in the composition of gut microbiota.

BMC Gastroenterol. 2018 Jun 15;18(1):85. doi: 10.1186/s12876-018-0819-6.