Ex vivo study shows potential mechanism for probiotics in supporting children’s immune health


A recent open label pilot clinical trial has found a potential link between probiotic supplementation and immune health in children.


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A recent open label pilot clinical trial1 has found a potential link between probiotic supplementation and immune health in children. In the study, 21 healthy children between the ages of 13 and 36 months were recruited and given a probiotic combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bidfidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis Bi-07 (Howaru Protect Kids manufactured by IFF, formerly DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences; New York, NY). Blood samples were taken from each subject at the beginning and at the end of study (30 days).

Researchers isolated immune cells from the blood samples, called peripheral blood monocytic cells (PBMCs). These cells were then stimulated with a molecule that mimics a respiratory virus so that they could measure the PBMCs’ immune response to the stimulus. Immune response was compared to baseline. Results showed a change in immune markers following supplementation. Specifically, there was a significant decrease in myeloid progenitor inhibitory factor 1 (MPIF-1), a marginal decreases macrophage inflammatory protein 3 alpha (MIP-3α), and a trend toward an increase in interleukin 10 (IL-10). This points to a potential mechanism by which probiotic supplementation may relieve symptoms of viral upper respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, warranting further study.

“We are thrilled to further confirm the connection between probiotic supplementation and healthy immune response in children. This research propels us to further examine how we can continue to use probiotic bacteria to stimulate innate immune response in children and adults alike,” stated Liisa Lehtoranta, PhD, the study’s co-author and research and development manager for IFF, in a press release.

“We have seen parents be very enthusiastic about giving a probiotic supplement to their children. In this study, children who took a daily probiotic supplement showed an increase in immune functions that are believed to be involved with fighting cold viruses,” added Gregory DeMuri, MD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who also co-authored the study.


  1. DeMuri GP et al. “Ex vivo peripheral blood mononuclear cell response to R848 in children after supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM/Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07.” Beneficial Microbes, vol. 12, no. 1 (2021): 85-93

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