Specific Probiotics in Enhancing Maturation of IgA Responses in Formula-Fed Infants

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The first months of life represent a critical period for the maturation of the infant's immune system and, thus, a window of opportunity for measures to reduce the risk of disease. We hypothesized that specific probiotics might promote mucosal immunologic maturation in formula-fed infants. The numbers of cow's milk–specific and total IgA-secreting cells were measured at 3, 7, and 12 mo of age in a double-blind placebo-controlled study of 72 infants with early artificial feeding. The infants consumed infant formula supplemented with specific probiotics (Lactobacillus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12) or placebo during the first year of life. Further analyses of the serum concentrations of the IgA-inducing cytokine TGF-β2 and the soluble innate microbial receptor sCD14 were conducted. The numbers of cow's milk–specific IgA secreting cells were significantly higher in infants receiving probiotics compared with those receiving placebo (p = 0.045, ANOVA for repeated measures). At 12 mo of age, the serum concentrations of sCD14 were 1479 pg/mL [95% confidence interval (CI) 1373–1592] in infants receiving probiotics and 1291 pg/mL (95% CI 1152–1445) in infants receiving placebo (p = 0.046). Administration of the probiotics Lactobacillus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 at the time of introduction of cow's milk in the infant's diet results in cow's milk–specific IgA antibody responsiveness that may be the result of increased production of sCD14.

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