Seungil Kim 1,2, Sohyeon Lee 1, Tae‑Young Kim 1, Su‑Hyun Lee 1, Sang‑Uk Seo 3 and Mi‑Na Kweon 1,2,*
1Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Department of Convergence Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine/Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2Digestive Diseases Research Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
3Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
*Corresponding author: correspondence to Mi‑Na Kweon
The modulation of immune responses by probiotics is crucial for local and systemic immunity. Recent studies have suggested a correlation between gut microbiota and lung immunity, known as the gut–lung axis. However, the evidence and mechanisms underlying this axis remain elusive.
In this study, we screened various Lactobacillus (L.) strains for their ability to augment type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling using an IFN-α/β reporter cell line. We identified L. paracasei (MI29) from the feces of healthy volunteers, which showed enhanced IFN-I signaling in vitro. Oral administration of the MI29 strain to wild-type B6 mice for 2 weeks resulted in increased expression of IFN-stimulated genes and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the lungs. We found that MI29-treated mice had significantly increased numbers of CD11c+PDCA-1+ plasmacytoid dendritic cells and Ly6Chi monocytes in the lungs compared with control groups. Pre-treatment with MI29 for 2 weeks resulted in less weight loss and lower viral loads in the lung after a sub-lethal dose of influenza virus infection. Interestingly, IFNAR1−/− mice did not show enhanced viral resistance in response to oral MI29 administration. Furthermore, metabolic profiles of MI29-treated mice revealed changes in fatty acid metabolism, with MI29-derived fatty acids contributing to host defense in a Gpr40/120-dependent manner.
These findings suggest that the newly isolated MI29 strain can activate host defense immunity and prevent infections caused by the influenza virus through the gut–lung axis.