Probiotics influence the immune system, both at the local and systemic level. Recent findings suggest the relation between microbiota and the immune system alters with age. Our objective was to address direct effects of six bacterial strains on immune cells from young and aged mice: Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1, Lactobacillus casei BL23, Lactococcus lactis MG1363, Bifidobacterium breve ATCC15700, Bifidobacterium infantis ATCC15697, and Akkermansia muciniphila ATCC BAA-835. We used splenocytes and naïve or interferon-γ-stimulated bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) as responder populations. All tested bacterial strains induced phenotypic and cytokine responses in splenocytes and BMDM. Based on magnitude of the cellular inflammatory response and cytokine profiles, two subgroups of bacteria were identified, i.e. L. plantarum and L. casei versus B. breve, B. infantis, and A. muciniphila. The latter group of bacteria induced high levels of cytokines produced under inflammatory conditions, including tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10. Responses to L. lactis showed features of both subgroups. In addition, we compared responses by splenocytes and BMDM derived from young mice to those of aged mice, and found that splenocytes and BMDM derived from aged mice had an increased IL-10 production and dysregulated IL-6 and TNF production compared to young immune cells. Overall, our study shows differential inflammatory responses to distinct bacterial strains, and profound age-dependent effects. These findings, moreover, support the view that immune environment importantly influences bacterial immune effects.

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Beneficial Microbes
Department of Immunology

van Beek, A., Hoogerland, J. A., Belzer, C., de Vos, P., De Vos, W. M., Savelkoul, H., & Leenen, P. (2016). Interaction of mouse splenocytes and macrophages with bacterial strains in vitro: The effect of age in the immune response. Beneficial Microbes, 7(2), 275–287. doi:10.3920/BM2015.0094