TH1 / TH2 ratio and Probiotics

A reader asked:

“I was wondering…have you done a blog post on probiotics that might help shift the Th1-Th2 balance?”

“T(H)2-cytokines increase the production of IgE and stimulate mast cells [aka histamine release] and eosinophils, whereas T(H)1-cytokines, such as IFN-gamma, may suppress IgE synthesis and stimulate the expression of the secretory piece of IgA.”[2008]

“Type 1 Th cells (Th1 cells) secrete IL-2, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF), whereas type 2 Th cells (Th2 cells) produce IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-13. ” [1998]

IMHO, there will be limited literature.  Much of the literature is for specific strains that are not available commercially.

Bottom Line

For most of the probiotics reported above, they induce TH1 and reduce TH2. Alternatively, the loss of these families of bacteria in CFS patients could explain the shift to TH2. The degree of shift each probiotic does varied greatly from strain to strain.  In other words, if you favor the TH2 – shift hypothesis for CFS, then you should definitely be taking probiotics. There are a few probiotics that decreases TH1.. so  “taking a probiotic” is not a magic formula.

The observed shift in CFS patients microbiome would explain the shift towards TH2 seen in CFS patients

Personally, I believe that the TH1/TH2 shift is a simplification that masks a lot of details on which cytokines are involved. For example, which one of the IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-1 are high? Only one may be — we should be treating the specifics and not doing a shotgun approach.