Car Bacteria and Probiotic Treatment of Allergy

Yellow labrador retriever sitting in the back of a car
Dogs aren’t the only ones who like to ride in cars, bacteria do too!
This week on BBS: Research uncovers the bacteria hiding in cars, breast milk antibodies positively influence the intestinal microbiota, and Lactobacilli improve symptoms in adult allergic rhinitis patients.

Bacteria in Cars

Awareness that local environments have their own special populations of bacteria is growing. Because many of us spend time in cars, Rachel Stephenson of the University of Michigan sought to identify the bacterial species belonging to the “car microbiota.” While the majority of bacteria found in the cars varied widely from car to car, she found that Staphylococcus bacteria were nearly always present. The three main species retrieved were S. epidermidis, S. aureus and S. warnerii, which under certain circumstances can be pathogenic. She found that silver-based coatings on steering wheels were a potential way to control bacteria build-up.

Breast Milk Antibodies and Bacteria

Breast milk, besides providing optimal nutrition for growing babies, also provides many factors that help baby’s immune defenses. One factor that breast milk contains is immunoglobulin (IgA) antibodies, which are found normally in the digestive tract. Dr. Eric W. Rogier considered that breast milk IgA might control intestinal bacteria populations. To test this, he orchestrated an experiment where newborn mice received milk without IgA and compared their intestinal microbiota to newborns getting milk with IgA. The loss of IgA led to long-lasting effects on the microbiota populations and ultimately changed the expression of genes associated with immune function in way that increased inflammation.

Lactobacilli for the Treatment of Allergy

Previous studies indicate that probiotics could be beneficial for the prevention of allergy in children. To learn more about the use of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitis in adults, Dr. D.J. Costa of the University of Medicine in Montpellier, France gave adults Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei LP-33 for five weeks along with normal allergy medication in a randomized, controlled double-blind study. The patients with probiotics reported a significantly increased quality of life score and reductions in eye symptoms.