Skip to main content

Bifidobacteria-mediated immune system imprinting early in life

  • 2021-07
  • Cell 184(15)
    • B. Henrick
    • L. Rodriguez
    • T. Lakshmikanth
    • Christian Pou
    • E. Henckel
    • E. Henckel
    • E. Henckel
    • Axel Olin
    • Jun Wang
    • J. Mikeš
    • Ziyang Tan
    • Yang Chen
    • Amy M. Ehrlich
    • A. Bernhardsson
    • C. Mugabo
    • Ylva Ambrosiani
    • Anna Gustafsson
    • Anna Gustafsson
    • Stephanie Chew
    • H. Brown
    • Johann Prambs
    • Kajsa Bohlin
    • Kajsa Bohlin
    • Ryan D. Mitchell
    • M. Underwood
    • J. Smilowitz
    • J. German
    • S. Frese
    • P. Brodin
    • P. Brodin


Immune-microbe interactions early in life influence the risk of allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases. Breastfeeding guides healthier immune-microbe relationships by providing nutrients to specialized microbes that in turn benefit the host's immune system. Such bacteria have co-evolved with humans but are now increasingly rare in modern societies. Here we show that a lack of bifidobacteria, and in particular depletion of genes required for human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) utilization from the metagenome, is associated with systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation early in life. In breastfed infants given Bifidobacterium infantis EVC001, which expresses all HMO-utilization genes, intestinal T helper 2 (Th2) and Th17 cytokines were silenced and interferon β (IFNβ) was induced. Fecal water from EVC001-supplemented infants contains abundant indolelactate and B. infantis-derived indole-3-lactic acid (ILA) upregulated immunoregulatory galectin-1 in Th2 and Th17 cells during polarization, providing a functional link between beneficial microbes and immunoregulation during the first months of life.

Keywords: human immunology; immune system development; mass cytometry; metagenomics; microbiome; neonate; neonatology; newborn immune systems; systems immunology; transcriptome.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Bifidobacterium infantisImproved Immune RegulationBeneficial
Bifidobacterium infantisReduced Inflammation LevelsBeneficial
Bifidobacterium infantis HA-116Improved Immune RegulationBeneficial
Bifidobacterium infantis HA-116Reduced InflammationBeneficial

Pillser helps you make informed health decisions by providing comprehensive, unbiased information about supplements. This includes detailed research on supplement ingredients, their benefits, potential risks, and their overall efficacy. You can contribute by sharing your feedback and suggestions.

Send us an email at