A new study published by Nestle in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown that heat-treated probiotics can act on cells to provide a balance for the immune system.
Probiotics are bacteria that are essential for human immune health, but they are mainly used in foods in a live form. Heat-treating probiotics remove the ability to replicate, a move which could help researchers develop more effective probiotic products such as infant formulas and drinks, with a longer shelf life.
The study explores how live and heat-treated forms of the probiotic affect immune cells through environmental factors.
Lead researcher Dr Carine Blanchard, from the Nestle Research Centre says a probiotic strain can deliver immunity benefits when heat-treated and existing in a neutral state.
“We tested several strains and actually when you heat treat stains for a lot of them the pro-inflammatory signalling goes down…and IL-10 production increases so they move toward a more immune-regulatory profile, so you can change the way probiotic influences the immune system,” Blanchard said.
Researchers found that both forms of the probiotic led to a greater production of interleukin-10 (IL-10), a protein that is vital for immune health in humans, but that the heat-treated probiotic was more effective.