Probiotic consumption linked to reduced duration of dengue symptoms
The study, a joint clinical trial involving the Kirin Central Research Institute, Kanagawa, Japan, and Tropical Infectious Diseases Research & Education Centre (TIDREC), University of Malaya. was led by researcher and director of TIDREC, Professor Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar, and looked at the effect of continuous 2-month consumption of Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma (LC-Plasma) on dengue-related symptoms.
The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study took place from December 2019 to February 2020. During this time, approximately 100 healthy adult Malaysians living in dengue infection cluster areas near Kuala Lumpur were asked to take a tablet containing LC-Plasma (approximately 100 billion CFU) or a placebo for 8 weeks, and symptoms were measured. The primary endpoints were cumulative days positive with dengue fever-like symptoms while the secondary endpoint was average severity of dengue fever-like symptoms.
It was found that 2-month long continuous intake of LC-Plasma significantly reduced the cumulative number of days of fever, muscle pain, joint pain, and pain behind the eyes, which are known to be the main symptoms of dengue fever. Figure 1 summarizes some of the results of the study. [Presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Travel and Health]
Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma
The bacterial strain was discovered in a laboratory in 2010 by researchers of Central Laboratories for Frontier Technology, Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd. Yokohama, Japan, and the discovery was published in 2012. It is the first known lactic acid bacteria to exhibit an immunomodulatory function by activating the plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC), including NK cells, killer T-cells, B cells and helper T cells. These cells are known as the ‘commander-in-chief’ of the immune system. They function as specialized sensors of viral and bacterial nucleic acids and produce IFN-α that enhance the immune system by priming both innate and acquired immune responses. [https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032588] Since its discovery, 27 scientific papers have been published looking into various aspects of LC-Plasma’s immunity enhancement and disease attenuation.
The effects of climate change and increased ease of travel is likely to increase the speed of disease spread and coverage. Vector-borne diseases such as dengue are expected to expand their reach due to the increase in areas suitable for mosquito proliferation. [Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(4):1392] Additionally, communicable diseases, be it parasitic, bacterial, or viral in nature, are also seeing faster spread with increased global travel. Conventional approaches to drug and therapeutic solutions for communicable diseases are slow, necessitating a broad-based approach. Therefore, it is speculated that boosting the body’s innate immune system may be the best way forward as there is a limit to the number of individual countermeasures for each pathogen.