Study proposes expected role for probiotics in forestalling respiratory infections

Study proposes expected role for probiotics in forestalling respiratory infections


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  • Source: Digestive Disease Week

  • Date: 15 May,2021

Daily probiotic use was associated with fewer upper respiratory symptoms in overweight and older people, according to a study which suggests a potential role for probiotics in preventing respiratory infections.

Researchers re-analyzed detailed daily diaries of 220 patients who engaged in a previous double-blind placebo-controlled study on probiotics and weight loss. Reviewing the entries for common signs of upper respiratory infection, such as cough, sore throat and wheezing, researchers found that participants who took probiotics during the six-month study had a 27 percent lower overall incidence of upper respiratory tract symptoms in contrast to the placebo group. The effect was greatest among participants who were aged 45 years or older, in addition to those with obesity.

This is not necessarily the most intuitive idea, that putting bacteria into your gut might reduce your risk of respiratory infection, but it’s further evidence that the gut microbiome has a complex relationship with our various organ systems. It doesn’t just affect how our gut works or how our liver works, it affects aspects of how our whole body works.”

Benjamin Mullish, MD, lead researcher on the study and clinical lecturer in the Division of Digestive Diseases, Imperial College London, England

People with obesity are at greater risk for respiratory infections.Previous research has shown that probiotics reduce upper respiratory infections in healthy adults and children, but little data exists on this vulnerable population of older, overweight and people with obesity.

“These findings add to growing interest from the gut-lung axis — how the gut as well as the lungs communicate with each other,” Dr. Mullish said. “It’s not only the gut sending out signals that influence the way the lungs work. It works in both directions. It adds to the story that changes in the intestine microbiome can impact large facets of our health.”

The researchers didn’t measure immune reaction, only respiratory ailments. Future randomized clinical trials could help identify the mechanisms associated with the reduction in respiratory symptoms and explore the possible impact of probiotics on the immune system, Dr. Mullish stated.


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