Probiotics are some of the most popular—yet also enigmatic—supplements on the market. Beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium are included in many consumer supplements, along with a plethora of other species. Researchers are still actively trying to define how the many variations of these bacteria might contribute to human health. To help better understand two specific species, this article takes a closer look at a 2008 study demonstrating anti-histamine action of Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium longum .
Histamine Lowering & Natural Allergy Relief
Allergies extend much further beyond seasonal sniffling. Many chronic health conditions can find their roots, at least partially, in unbridled histamine production. Histamines are compounds that are neuroregulatory and can be found concentrated in various levels among different organs and areas of the human body. L-Histidine decarboxylase (HDC) actively converts histidine into histamine, which utilized by a series of different histamine receptors; H1, H2, H3 and H4. Levels of histamine are controlled by diamine oxidase (DAO). Environmental, dietary or genetic factors affecting HDC or DAO production can cause issues with histamine dysregulation. Simply put; if your body is not making enough HDC you won’t make enough histamine and if your body isn’t making enough DAO you’ll likely have too much histamine. These two compounds are fundemental variables in the equation that governs histamine balance. As they relate to probiotics, histamines and other biogenic amines such as tyramine have been shown to be produced by certain bacterial species. Generally speaking, bacteria can be classified as histamine producing, histamine lowering or histamine neutral . This isn’t a widely used classification system per-se and adopted here only for simplicity. There is a popular hypothesis that the modern obsession with hygiene has reduced exposure to many beneficial bacteria that help regulate histamine action in our body . Further investigation into the ability of specific bacteria types’ impact on histamine regulation has supported this concept for the most part. One possible approach at overcoming this shortage of bacterium is by through supplementation with probiotics.
In this particular study, researchers from several universities collaborated to determine the potential impact of Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium longum on histamine regulation. Bacteria from the Bifidobacterium genus are often studied for their potential impact on human health—because they are naturally occurring in our digestive systems. Their impact on histamine regulation was measured in this study in two dimensions. The first; researchers determined the ability of the Bifidobacterium bacteria to reduce allergy symptoms and second; researchers analyzed the specific impact the on histamine-regulating genes. These investigations were conducted on laboratory mice that had been sensitized to a common human allergen, toluene 2, 4-diisocyanate (TDI). The mice in the test group were given a pre-treatment of a liquid suspension of the two Bifidobacterium species .
Bifidobacterium Show Promising Results
Researchers administered TDI to the nasal passages of the test group to provoke an allergic response. After a period of time, a liquid suspension of the Bifidobacterium infantis and longum was administered. Researchers found that allergy symptoms were significantly (P<0.01) reduced in those mice receiving the probiotic treatment. Researchers noted that genetic expressions of histamine related genes (H1R) increased 250% after initial TDI treatment. Among those mice receiving a probiotic treatment, H1R expression was reduced by 60% (P<0.01) which resulted in significantly (P<0.05) lower histamine levels. In addition to the reduction of histamine regulating genetic groups, researchers also demonstrated that the Bifidobacterium treatment was able to significantly (P<0.05) suppress certain cytokine action as well. These compound included interluken 4 (IL-4) and interluken 5 (IL-5) .
Cellular Pathways & Oil Refineries
Genetic expressions, cytokines, histamine regulating bacteria; these factors comprise a complex maze of biology difficult to understand. Research such as this has helped to offer a lot of insight into the scientific understanding of bacterial roles played in our immune system and overall health. Even with detailed summaries of findings however, many such results aren’t well applied by the general public. The basic concepts discussed in this study can be simplified to provide a bit more practical understanding—for those not interested in lowering H1R expression in their pet hamsters. Cellular pathways are like roadmaps we use to understand how one compound enters the body, get transformed into another compound, gets put to use and then gets recycled or eliminated.
Cellular Pathways are like maps describing the process of extracting crude oil from the deserts of Saudia Arabia and eventually turning it into gasoline to fuel our cars. There’s the refinement process to actually convert the crude oil into gas, which in this case is like the transformation of histidine into histamine by L-Histidine Decarboxylase. Not often considered however are the engineering teams needed to make the oil rigs, the shipment containers, the storage facilities and, of course, the cars themselves. There are a lot of peripheral processes involved of making both gasoline and histamine—and we’ve much less idea of how histamine is made and regulated.
This study helps support the notion that probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium longum both likely play a role in the process. They found that each bacterium showed the potential to help lower overall histamine levels involved with allergic reactions. This discovery is important because it helps support the idea that maintaining healthy and diverse levels of intestinal bacteria can likely help reduce symptoms of allergies. This was only a study conducted on mice and doesn’t on its own stand as any beacon of discovery. These types of bacteria play an active role in helping to synthesize nutrients like Magnesium, B Vitamins and many, many other vital nutrients. For those suffering from allergies or histamine intolerance, probiotics such as Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium longum may offer some powerful relief.
- Maintz, N. Novak. (2007), Histamine and histamine intolerance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5) 1185-1196. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1185.long
- Schaub, R. Lauener, E. Mutius. (2006), The many faces of the hygiene hypothesis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 117(5) 969-977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2006.03.003
- S.Dev, H. Mizuguchi, A.K. Das, et al. (2008), Suppression of Histamine Signlaing by Probiotic Lac-B: a Possible Mechanism of Its Anti-Allergic Effect. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 107(2) 159-166. http://doi.org/10.1254/jphs.08028FP