British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® on health-related quality of life in college students affected by upper respiratory infections

Tracey J. Smitha1 c1, Diane Rigassio-Radlera1, Robert Denmarka2, Timothy Haleya3a4 and Riva Touger-Deckera1

a1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Health Related Professions, 65 Bergen Street, Room 157, Newark, NJ 07101, USA

a2 Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Health Related Professions, 65 Bergen Street, Room 110B, Newark, NJ 07101, USA

a3 Adjunct Faculty, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Health Related Professions, Newark, NJ 07101, USA

a4 Office of Medical Support and Oversight, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Kansas Street, Building 42, Natick, MA 01760, USA

Abstract

College students are susceptible to upper respiratory infections (URI) due to inadequate sleep, stress and close living quarters. Certain probiotic strains modulate immune function and may improve health-related quality of life (HRQL) during URI. The present study recruited apparently healthy college students and assessed the effect of probiotics on HRQL outcomes (i.e. self-reported duration, symptom severity and functional impairment of URI) in those who developed URI. Missed school and work days due to URI were also considered. Subjects (n 231) were apparently healthy college students living on campus in residence halls at the Framingham State University (Framingham, MA, USA), and were randomised to receive placebo (n 117) or probiotic-containing powder (daily dose of minimum 1 billion colony-forming units of each Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® (LGG®) and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® (BB-12®); n 114) for 12 weeks. Subjects completed The Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 to assess HRQL during URI. The final analyses included 198 subjects (placebo, n 97 and probiotics, n 101). The median duration of URI was significantly shorter by 2 d and median severity score was significantly lower by 34 % with probiotics v. placebo (P< 0·001), indicating a higher HRQL during URI. Number of missed work days was not different between groups (P= 0·429); however, the probiotics group missed significantly fewer school days (mean difference = 0·2 d) compared to the placebo group (P= 0·002). LGG® and BB-12® may be beneficial among college students with URI for mitigating decrements in HRQL. More research is warranted regarding mechanisms of action associated with these findings and the cost–benefit of prophylactic supplementation.

(Received March 07 2012)

(Revised August 06 2012)

(Accepted August 06 2012)

(Online publication October 01 2012)

Key Words:

  • Probiotics;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Common cold;
  • Lactobacillus ;
  • Bifidobacterium

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Dr T. J. Smith, email smitht9@umdnj.edu

Footnotes

  Abbreviations: AE, adverse events; BB-12®, Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12®; HRQL, health-related quality of life; LGG®, Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG®; OTC, over-the-counter; PI, principal investigator; URI, upper respiratory infections; WURSS-21, Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21

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