Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hayfever hope

With the peak grass pollen season approaching, scientists can reveal that a daily dose of probiotic can change the immune status of people with hay fever.

In the first human study of its kind, scientists at the Institute of Food Research found that probiotic bacteria in a daily drink can modify the immune system’s response to grass pollen, a common cause of seasonal hay fever.

But they are not recommending that sufferers rush to the supermarket shelves just yet. The changes found may not have an immediate effect on symptoms.

“This was a pilot study based on small numbers of patients, but we were fascinated to discover a response”, says research leader Professor Claudio Nicoletti. “The probiotic significantly reduced the production of molecules associated with allergy.”

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen or fungal spores, most commonly grass pollen. The immune system mistakes the spores for harmful invaders and produces excessive amounts of the antibody IgE to bind to them and fight them off.

IgE stimulates the release of histamine to flush out the spores, and this irritates the airways making them swell and producing the symptoms of hayfever.

In this study, volunteers with a history of seasonal hay fever drank a daily milk drink with or without live bacteria over 5 months. The study was double-blinded and placebo controlled, so neither the volunteers nor the scientists knew who had been assigned the probiotic drinks. The probiotic drinks contained Lactobacillus casei, a bacterial species that has been widely studied for its health promoting properties.

Blood samples were taken before the grass pollen season, then again when it was at its peak (June), and 4 weeks after the end of season. There were no significant differences in levels of IgE in the blood between the two groups at the start of the study, but IgE levels were lower in the probiotic group both at the peak season and afterwards.

At the same times, levels of the antibody IgG were higher, a type of antibody that in contrast to IgE is thought to play a protective role against allergic reactions.

“The probiotic strain we tested changed the way the body’s immune cells respond to grass pollen, restoring a more balanced immune response”, says Dr Kamal Ivory, a senior member of the group.

The changes observed may also reduce the severity of symptoms, but clinical symptoms were not measured in this study. That is one aim of further research.

“These are really interesting results”, says Dr Linda Thomas, head of science at Yakult UK, who provided the drinks and some of the funding. “We are delighted that independent scientists found evidence of this biological activity. The project was part of ongoing research into the benefits of our probiotic strain. The Institute of Food Research is well positioned to do this kind of fundamental research, as it is unique in having the right combination of expertise in microbiology, immunology, flow cytometry and human nutrition research.”

Professor Nicoletti’s group intend to perform a similar study in the near future to see if the immunological changes translate into a real reduction in the clinical symptoms of hayfever. They would also like to examine the mechanisms involved.


Zoe Dunford, Media Manager, Institute of Food Research
t: 01603 255111
m: 07768 164185
Andy Chapple, Press Office Assistant, Institute of Food Research
t: 01603 251490
m: 07785 766779

Zoe Dunford | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>