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Effect of Bifidobacterium longum BB536 on Prevention of Influenza Virus Infections of Elderly

Research undertaken by Dr. Kunihiko Suzuki of the Medical Corporation Hakujinkai Shimura Omiya Hospital investigated the effects of administering Bifidobacterium BB536, a bifidobacterial probiotics developed through efforts by Morinaga Milk, to the elderly on rates of infections including influenza during wintertime.

The researchers conducted a randomized double blind placebo controlled study on a subject group consisting of 27 elderly persons aged 65 or older living in nursing homes. After informed consent, all subjects were administered a sachet of BB536 powder (100 billion viable cells/2 g sachet) daily for six weeks and vaccinated with the influenza vaccine at the third week of BB536 powder administration. After assessment for levels of antibody titers to influenza vaccine at the sixth week, the subjects were divided into two groups (BB 536 and placebo groups). The administration of BB536 powder continued for more 14 weeks in BB536 group and the subsequent incidence of influenza, fever, antibiotics administration, and levels of antibody titers to influenza vaccine was then recorded during 14 weeks.

The researchers observed that fewer of those subjects receiving continuous Bifidobacterium BB536 administration contracted influenza, developed fevers of 38°C or above, or required the administration of antibiotics for infections.

The results of blood analysis showed significantly higher bactericidal activity of neutrophils and higher NK cell activity at the fifth week of Bifidobacterium BB536 administration, compared to preadministration. These effects persisted for 20 weeks in the BB536 group but diminished in the placebogroup by the 20th week.

During the observation period, from vaccination to the end of the investigation, no changes were noted in levels of antibody titers to the influenza vaccine in either the BB536 or placebo groups, indicating that Bifidobacterium BB536 does not affect levels of antibody titers against the influenza vaccine.

These results suggest that Bifidobacterium BB536 stimulates the body’s immune system and activates NK cells and neutrophils, thereby reducing infections among the elderly, such as influenza.

About BB536
Morinaga Milk Industry developed BB536 (Bifidobacterium longum BB536) as excellent probiotics following many years of independent research. It was isolated in healthy human intestinal tracts and is a bifidobacterium of human origin. BB536 confers various benefits, such as regulating intestinal function, protecting against infections, and boosting immunoregulation. It is also tolerance to acids and oxygen, and is capable of reaching the intestines alive.

Morinaga Milk Industry applied BB536 to various type of dairy products such as Bifidus Milk or Bifidus Yogurt. Development of lyophilized BB536 powder made ease to apply more diversified products such as dietary supplement or infant formulas.

Morinaga's Probiotics including BB536 are represented by Mitsubishi International Food Ingredients in North America.

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