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Vol. 115, No. 4, 1998
Issue release date: April 1998
Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1998;115:278–287

Lactobacillus casei Inhibits Antigen-Induced IgE Secretion through Regulation of Cytokine Production in Murine Splenocyte Cultures

Shida K. · Makino K. · Morishita A. · Takamizawa K. · Hachimura S. · Ametani K. · Sato T. · Kumagai Y. · Habu S. · Kaminogawa S.
aDepartment of Applied Biological Chemistry, University of Tokyo, bYakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research,Kunitachi, cDepartment of Immunology, Tokai University School of Medicine, Isehara, and dPrecursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology, Research Development Corporation of Japan, Yokohama, Japan

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Background:Lactobacillus casei is a nonpathogenic gram-positive bacterium widely used in dairy products and has been shown to enhance the cellular immunity of the host. Methods: To examine the inhibitory effect of L. casei on IgE production, splenocytes obtained from ovalbumin (OVA)-primed BALB/c mice were restimulated in vitro with the same antigen in the presence of heat-killed L. casei. The effect of this bacterium on T helper (Th) phenotype development was also examined with naive T cells from OVA-specific T cell receptor-transgenic mice. Results:L. casei induced IFN-γ, but inhibited IL-4 and IL-5 secretion, and markedly suppressed total and antigen-specific IgE secretion by OVA-stimulated splenocytes. The inhibitory effect of L. casei on IgE, IL-4, and IL-5 production was partially abrogated by addition of neutralizing antibody to IFN-γ. Augmented IL-12 production was also observed in the cell cultures containing L. casei, and anti-IL-12 monoclonal antibody completely restored the IgE, IL-4, and IL-5 production to the control levels. The IL-12 augmentation by L. casei was macrophage-dependent. The Th cell development assay showed the ability of L. casei to induce Th1 development preferentially. This effect was also completely blocked by anti-IL-12 antibody. Conclusions: This is the first demonstration that a nonpathogenic microorganism, L. casei, can inhibit antigen-induced IgE production through induction of IL-12 secretion by macrophages. The findings suggest a potential use of this organism in preventing IgE-mediated allergy.

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