Background: There is increasing evidence to suggest an immunomodulation function both within the intestines and systemically upon consuming probiotic species. We recently isolated a novel LAB, Lactobacillus caseiZhang (LcZhang) from koumiss. LcZhang exhibited favorable probiotic properties, such as acid resistance, bile resistance, gastrointestinal (GI) colonization ability, etc. In order to examine the immunomodulatory qualities of LcZhang, we administered LcZhang to healthy mice with varying doses of either live or heat-killed LcZhang and measured various parameters of the host immune response. Results: The study was performed in four separate experiments via oral administration of live and heat-killed LcZhang to BALB/c mice for several consecutive days. We investigated the immunomodulating capacity of LcZhang in vivo by analyzing the profile of cytokines, T cell subpopulations, and immunoglobulin concentrations induced in blood serum and intestinal fluid in BALB/c mice. Only live bacteria elicited a wide range of immune responses, which include the increased production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and depression of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels. In addition, interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-2 receptor gene transcription increased significantly, but the proportion of T cell subsets appeared to be unaffected. We also observed that LcZhang was capable of inducing gut mucosal responses by enhancing the production of secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA) as well influencing the systemic immunity via the cytokines released to the circulating blood. Conclusion: The present work shows that the dose-dependent administration of LcZhang is capable of influencing immune responses, implying that it may be a valuable strain for probiotic use in humans.
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