Effect of synbiotic supplementation on immune parameters and gut microbiota in healthy adults: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.

Gut microbes. 2023;15(2):2247025

Plain language summary

The gut microbiota is involved in regulating immunity and synbiotics, that is combinations of pro- and prebiotics, may therefore modulate immunity via the gut microbiota. The aim of this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was to evaluate the immune-modulatory effects of a synbiotic supplement (containing Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and fructo-oligosaccharide) in healthy adults. Outcome measures included C-reactive protein (CRP, an inflammatory marker), various pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, stool and salivary secretory IgA (sIgA), leukocytes, microbial stool analysis and occurrence, duration, and severity of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). Compared to the control group, a significant reduction in the inflammatory markers CRP and interferon-gamma and an increase in the anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 and stool sIgA were observed in the supplementation group. There were no differences in types of leukocytes or URTIs between groups. Significant favourable changes in microbiome analysis were observed in the supplemented group which correlated with the observed improvements in inflammatory markers. These changes were dependent on the baseline composition of the microbiome. No adverse events were reported. The authors conclude that the data show that synbiotics are of benefit to healthy adults and support the concept of personalised supplementation.


Synbiotics are increasingly used by the general population to boost immunity. However, there is limited evidence concerning the immunomodulatory effects of synbiotics in healthy individuals. Therefore, we conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study in 106 healthy adults. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either synbiotics (containing Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 1.5 × 108 CFU/d, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 7.5 × 107 CFU/d, and fructooligosaccharide 500 mg/d) or placebo for 8 weeks. Immune parameters and gut microbiota composition were measured at baseline, mid, and end of the study. Compared to the placebo group, participants receiving synbiotic supplementation exhibited greater reductions in plasma C-reactive protein (P = 0.088) and interferon-gamma (P = 0.008), along with larger increases in plasma interleukin (IL)-10 (P = 0.008) and stool secretory IgA (sIgA) (P = 0.014). Additionally, synbiotic supplementation led to an enrichment of beneficial bacteria (Clostridium_sensu_stricto_1, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Collinsella) and several functional pathways related to amino acids and short-chain fatty acids biosynthesis, whereas reduced potential pro-inflammatory Parabacteroides compared to baseline. Importantly, alternations in anti-inflammatory markers (IL-10 and sIgA) were significantly correlated with microbial variations triggered by synbiotic supplementation. Stratification of participants into two enterotypes based on pre-treatment Prevotella-to-Bacteroides (P/B) ratio revealed a more favorable effect of synbiotic supplements in individuals with a higher P/B ratio. In conclusion, this study suggested the beneficial effects of synbiotic supplementation on immune parameters, which were correlated with synbiotics-induced microbial changes and modified by microbial enterotypes. These findings provided direct evidence supporting the personalized supplementation of synbiotics for immunomodulation.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Microbiome
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Not applicable
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Saliva ; Stool
Bioactive Substances : Probiotics ; Prebiotics

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 5
Allocation concealment : Yes


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Microbiome