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Europe: Probiotics strengthens that elderly’s immune response, finds DuPont study

Daily consumption of Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis HN019 by DuPont Danisco enhances cellular immune activity in healthy elderly adults, according to a study published in Nutrients February 2017.

Four clinical trials were included in this analysis.

Data showed that B. lactis HN019 supplementation was highly efficacious in increasing polymorphonuclear (PMN) phagocytic capacity with a standardized mean difference (SMD) of 0.74 (95% confidence interval: 0.38 to 1.11, p < 0.001).

It is also moderately efficacious in increasing natural killer (NK) cell tumoricidal activity with an SMD of 0.43 (95% confidence interval: 0.08 to 0.78, p = 0.02).

The consumption of B. lactis HN019 daily was found to enhance cellular immune activity – NK cell and PMN function – in healthy elderly adults.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that reported PMN phagocytosis activity or NK cell tumoricidal activity following B. lactis HN019 consumption in the elderly were conducted.

A random effects meta-analysis was performed using standardized mean difference statistics between probiotic and control groups for each outcome.

“This is the first Systematic Review and meta-analysis of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis HN019 in relation to immune function in elderly – a highly relevant target group since elderly people have increased susceptibility to infections and cancer that are associated with decline in cellular immune function,” said Liisa Lehtoranta, research manager, DuPont Nutrition & Health.


Elderly people represent the fastest growing population globally.

Typically, the elderly population has weaker immune responses to vaccination and elevated risk for infections, certain autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Several of these health risks are a consequence of weakening immune function associated with the aging process, i.e., immunosenescence.

Gut microbiota plays a significant role in immunosenescence and is influenced by physiological aging process, lifestyle, and diet.

Research shows that gut microbiota of the elderly has specific features compared to microbiota of younger adults such as lower levels of bifidobacteria and higher levels of Bacteroidetes spp.

These changes in microbiota composition may be indicative of dysbiosis and poorer health.

Therefore, targeted dietary interventions which restore microbiota composition could potentially help maintain overall health and improve the quality of the life of the elderly.