Bifidobacteria & Immunity in Older People

Joanna Scott-Lutyens BA (Hons) DipION

A study carried out by the University of Reading and DuPont Nutrition & Health has identified that daily supplementation with Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 may help improve immune system function in the elderly. Daily supplementation with bacteria strain Bi-07 for three weeks was seen to improve levels and phagocytic activity of white blood cells, known as monocytes and granulocytes.

microscopic white blood cells
Bi-07 has been shown to increase white blood cell activity which plays a vital role in immune function

Dr Marcus Lehtinen, Senior Scientist at DuPont Nutrition & Health explains,"alterations in the gut microbiota and immune functions of elderly adults are associated with higher susceptibility to infections and metabolic disorders”.

The double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial involved 37 elderly volunteers, divided into four trial groups. The four groups took different supplements, a maltodextrin placebo (8 g/day), a prebiotic (see Probiotics Learning Lab for more) galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) at 8g/day, a probiotic Bi-07 (109 units/day), and a synbiotic GOS combined with probiotic Bi-07 (8g/day and 109 units/day). The groups took the supplements for a total of 21 days, with a 28 day wash-out period and blood, saliva and faecal samples were taken from the study subjects to analyse markers of immune function and microbiota (find out more in the Probiotics Learning Lab) composition.

The results were very interesting and demonstrated that supplementation with Bi-07 probiotic bacteria significantly improved phagocytic activity of monocytes and granulocytes (white blood cells) in healthy elderly adults. Supplementation with GOS or with the synbiotic combination of GOS and Bi-07 did not have an impact on any of the parameters that were measured. It was also positive to note that supplementing with the Bi-07 probiotic bacteria did not increase inflammation in the elderly.

Dr Lehtinen states, “Phagocytosis, by which immune cells ‘eat’ bacteria or infected cells, is one of the mechanisms that help to resist infections. Results of this study show that the probiotic Bi-07 may provide health benefits to elderly individuals by increasing the activity of phagocytic cells.”

See more related articles:

Bifidobacterium strain helps reduce colds
Probiotics Database - Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07
Large study supports Bifidobacteria for the elderly (over in the Probiotics Learning Lab)

You can find B. lactis Bi-07 in Optibac Every Day EXTRA.


  1. Lehtinen M, Maneerat S, Childs C. Consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 by healthy elderly adults ehnances phagocytic activity of monocytes and granulocytes. Journal of Nutritional Science, Vol 2/e44.