The effect of milks fermented by Lactobacillus helveticus and its non-proteolytic variant on mucosal and tumoral immunity was studied. Milks fermented by Lb. helveticus wild type or its non-proteolytic variant were administered orally to mice for different periods (3, 5 and 7 d). The immune response was assessed by analysing the activity of the peritoneal macrophages, the number of cells secreting IgA associated with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and with the bronchial-associated lymphoid tissue. The number of cells was determined by direct immunofluorescence. The antitumour activity was monitored by studying the regression of the subcutaneously implanted fibrosarcomas. After 3 d feeding of milk fermented by Lb. helveticus wild type, the number of sIgA increased significantly at both the intestinal and bronchial levels, indicating that a cellular migration had occurred. This effect was not noticeable when milk fermented by Lb. helveticus Protease (−) was orally administered. Both fermented milks (wild type or its variant) exhibited an effect on the activity of the peritoneal macrophages, which might be indirectly correlated to the regression of the fibrosarcoma. Although the mechanism by which the lactic acid bacteria enhance the immune system is not clear, this study clearly suggests that the bioactive compounds released during milk fermentation might contribute to the immunoenhancing properties of these products. By releasing biopeptide, lactic acid bacteria have important implications in modulation of the host's immune response, more specifically its cellular immune response.
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