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Coronavirus, URI and Probiotics

Posted on01 Apr 2020

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus known to spread by upper respiratory secretions. Officials named this new virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This is the virus that causes COVID-19. Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a disease that can cause what doctors call a respiratory tract infection.

It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). Upper respiratory infections caused by viruses are among the most common health problems in humans.

Source: Harvard Health

Probiotics should fulfil the following criteria: they must survive in the gastrointestinal tract and be able to proliferate in the gut; they should benefit the host through growth and/or activity in humans; and they should be non-pathogenic.

Clinical effects of probiotics in the upper respiratory tract.

The prevention of upper respiratory infections by the use of probiotics has been studied in several trials. Probiotics was shown to reduce the incidence or risk of URI in children. A recent systematic review found a favourable outcome of the use of probiotics in reducing the episodes of new respiratory infection in children.

A recent Cochrane database review of the use of probiotics in URI found 13 randomized controlled trials with participants in several age groups.
Probiotics were found to be better than the placebo in reducing the number of subjects who experienced acute URI, the mean duration of acute URI.

Clinical Data on Probiotics reducing the incidence of URI (Upper Respiratory infection)

1. Healthy adults aged 18-65 (n=318) - L. plantarum and L. paracasei : incidence of common cold episodes ↓ Number of days with respiratory symptoms ↓ Berggren 2011

2. Healthy volunteers aged 69-80 (n=60) - L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus : Risk of URI ↓ Natural killer cell activity ↑
Makino 2010

3. Healthy children aged 8-13 (n=80) - L. acidophilus and B. bifidum : Symptoms of URI ↓ Absences from school related to URI ↓
Rerksuppaphol 2012

4. Children aged 6-25 mo (n=100) - L. acidophilus and L. casei : Episodes of respiratory tract infections ↓
Rio 2002

5. Healthy adults, average age 38±13 (n = 479) - L. gasseri, B. longum, and B. bifidum : Duration of URI ↓ Total symptom score ↓ Days with fever during URI ↓
de Vrese 2005

Microbes can adhere directly to each other, but effects can also occur through adhesion on the host’s mucosal surfaces. Highly evolved relationships between the upper respiratory micro biota exist, and it is important to understand those interactions, especially when the micro biota is manipulated. In probiotic settings, knowledge of the colonization of the respiratory epithelium is valuable for further research to investigate the effects of probiotics on the natural microbiota.
This shows that certain probiotic strains do help in lowering the incidence of URI. 
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