Millions of people around the world take probiotics to improve their digestive health. If this includes you, good news - probiotics can also help protect against variations of influenza A virus, according to a Georgia State University study.
Influenza A virus infects humans, birds and pigs and has many subtypes based on hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins on the surface of the virus. To date, researchers have identified 18 and 11 different HA and NA substype molecules, respectively.
In other words, the two subtypes can combine to form many variations of flu, which changes from season to season, and why it's important to find new ways to stave it off regardless of the virus strain. Keep reading for the full findings of the current study.
Probiotics offer promising protection against influenza A virus
The researchers behind the study investigated the antiviral protective effects of a heat-killed strain of lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus casei DK128 (DK128), a probiotic isolated from fermented vegetables, on influenza viruses.
They pre-treated mice with DK128 intra-nasally and infected them with a lethal dose of influenza A virus. The mice showed a variety of immune responses that indicated protection against the flu and also developed immunity against a number of virus subtypes.
The mice that received DK128 prior to infection had about 18 less influenza virus in their lungs compared to those in the control group. All of the mice in this group survived.
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The control mice, which weren’t pre-treated with DK128 but were infected with the same lethal dose of the virus, died.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports
Past studies have linked lactic acid bacteria to protection against bacterial infections
Previous research has found that certain strains of lactic acid bacteria provide protection against bacterial infectious diseases, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae
, as well as cold
and influenza viruses.
In addition to being found in probiotics, lactic acid bacteria are also used to turn milk into yoghurt or cheese, and cabbage into sauerkraut.
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