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Immunomodulatory effects of a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota in healthy older volunteers



There is growing evidence that probiotics confer health benefits to the host by modulating immune function, especially in older people, where immunosenescence is a feature even of healthy ageing. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) on immune function in a healthy non-immunocompromised older population.


Thirty healthy old volunteers were recruited into a randomized placebo-controlled, single-blind crossover study. The volunteers were supplemented with the probiotic drink containing 1.3 × 1010 CFU LcS or skimmed milk per day for 4 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of washout and were crossed over to the other treatment. Peripheral blood and saliva samples were collected at baseline and end of each treatment.


Probiotic consumption was associated with a significant increase in natural killer (NK) cell activity relative to baseline and a significant decrease in the mean fluorescence intensity of CD25 expression in the resting T cells compared with placebo. Additionally, there was a trend towards an increased ratio of IL-10 to IL-12 relative to baseline after LcS intake.


Consumption of a probiotic drink containing LcS improved NK cell activity and tended to produce a more anti-inflammatory cytokine profile in an older population.

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All authors contributed to the study design, analysis of the data and preparation of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of interest

This research was sponsored by a Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award and Yakult UK Limited. Dr. Thomas is an employee of Yakult UK Limited.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Parveen Yaqoob.

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Dong, H., Rowland, I., Thomas, L.V. et al. Immunomodulatory effects of a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota in healthy older volunteers. Eur J Nutr 52, 1853–1863 (2013).

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  • Cytokine
  • Immune function
  • Lactobacillus casei Shirota
  • Lymphocyte
  • Probiotic