Sneeze, Wheeze, and Cough:
HATS Probiotics Improve Homeostasis of the Upper Airways.
R. H. Bennett Ph.D., President Applied Life Sciences LLC
Those of us that suffer the constant frustrations of sneezing and wheezy airways take no consolation that more and more people have joined this club against their will. The homeostatic or balancing forces of our physiology are off kilter for increasing numbers of young and old alike.
The concept of homeostasis or the balancing controls of our physiology is key to our understanding of how the microbiome works. We must stop thinking about how a product, even a good HATS probiotic can be used to treat disease conditions that result from upper airway inflammation. That is just not how the ubiome or good microbiome works. It works by continuously sending mediator signals into the body to sustain homeostasis, even when forces arise to knock it off kilter.
The concept of dysbiosis is quite clear now, after a decade of microbiome research. External forces, such as a diet high in simple sugars and fat, antibiotic and other medication usage and garden-variety stress, act singularly and in combination to negatively alter the microbiome. This altered and less than an optimally functional state is called dysbiosis.
Now consider the indignity of chronic nasal and upper airway allergies. This can be a big annoyance for some and for others so severe, just breathing become hard and frightening. Yes, the nasal cavities have a microbiome of their own, and it appears the specific strains of microbes in the nares help prevent chronic bacterial sinusitis. Yet the real link to airway inflammation and the microbiome is in the gut.
Figure 1. Allergy and the TH balance.
(National Asthma Education and Prevention Program 2007)
Gut dysbiosis creates mediators that send signals to the immune system in the gut. They shift the immune balance toward inflammation via the TH1/TH2 axis (Sandilya 2011). The ongoing TH2 dominance caused by dysbiosis eventually signals the antibody or humoral arm of the immune system to shift toward the allergy end of that spectrum. As a result, we make more allergy antibodies called IgE to house dust mites, grasses, pollens and the like. The interaction of these allergens with the antibodies sets off more mediators that can trigger an allergy attack or worse yet send the airways into a mucus flooded spasm. Some asthma attacks are asphyxiating frightening and without emergency treatment can be life-threatening.
Researchers found that the HATS probiotic L. Rhamnosus GG when administered intra-nasally in mice prevented allergic responses to Birch pollen (Spacova 2018). The nasal probiotic appears to work at the cellular level to impede the mechanisms of allergic inflammation.
Studies using orally administered L. plantarum NCIMB8826 increased production of IgG over IgE and produced Interferon-gamma. This clearly suggests a shift away from TH2 towards TH1 and thus a reduction of allergic potential (Toh 2012).
Another way oral HATS probiotics decrease allergic potential is by helping to maintain the integrity of the gut epithelial barrier. Dysbiosis is associated with “leaky gut syndrome." At the cellular level junctions between cells part ever so slightly and allow inflammatory mediators and, in some cases, inflammatory bacteria like E. coli to invade. As the bacteria are attacked by immune cells, it may release endotoxins, and these toxins trigger a cascade of events signaling inflammation and the shifts toward TH2 dominance.
Figure 2. Microbiome health has profound influences on the gut and the entire system. (Martens 2018)
In a mouse model of colitis, L. rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 helped to maintain the epithelial barrier Tight Junctions via a protein called occludin (Laval 2015). Thus, fewer penetrating inflammatory mediators gain access through the intestinal barrier and decreased TH2 shift results.
It may seem counter-intuitive that a HATS probiotic working in the gut can benefit the homeostasis of the upper respiratory system. Yet each day we learn how the microbiome of the gut profoundly influences the homeostasis of almost all body systems.
As we have seen in previous HATS Blog posts that for the newborn more factors work to maintain the balance of the immune response. Thus, those products that add colostral peptides to the formulation get even greater homeostatic benefits.
For those that curse the wheezes and the sneezes, it is time think about the gut, its microbiome, how it is nourished or abused and how a HATS probiotic may help restore balance to a system that has long been out of kilter. Restoring balance may take some time so be patient, and it is likely one day, you too will say, you know what, I have been breathing a whole lot better lately.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, Third Expert Panel on the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Bethesda (MD): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (US); 2007
Laval L, Martin R, Natividad JN, et al. Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM
I-3690 and the commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii
A2-165 exhibit similar protective effects to induced barrier hyperpermeability
in mice. Gut Microbes. 2015;6:1-9.
Martens K, Pugin B, De Boeck I, et al. Probiotics for the airways: Potential to improve
epithelial and immune homeostasis. Allergy. 2018;00:1–10.
Shandilya UK, Jadhav S, Panwar V, Kansal VK. Probiotics: potent
immunomodulatory tool against allergy. Probiotics Antimicrobe Proteins.
Spacova I, Petrova M, Fremau A, et al. Intranasal administration of
probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG prevents birch pollen induced
allergic asthma in a murine model. Allergy. 2018; https://doi.org/10.
Toh ZQ, Anzela A, Tang ML, Licciardi PV. Probiotic therapy as a
novel approach for allergic disease. Front Pharmacol. 2012;3:171.