AB21® demonstrates benefit in COVID-19 outpatients

12 January 2022 – 3 min read

A newly published clinical trial in Gut Microbes – a top journal reporting the latest science in microbiota – has confirmed that Kaneka Group / AB-Biotics’ AB21® probiotic formulation exhibits significant positive effects in COVID-19 outpatients. Based on the findings of the study, the research group demonstrated the probiotic formulation significantly impacted many measured parameters of the COVID-19-positive patients including reduction of viral load, duration of symptoms, and rate of remission.

The gut-lung axis (GLA) involves a sophisticated cross-talk between intestinal and pulmonary tissues via microbiome and immune cells.[i],[ii] It is therefore hypothesized that probiotics may benefit COVID-19 patients too by influencing the GLA.

The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of a probiotic formulation – comprised of Lactiplantibacillus plantarum stains (KABP022, KABP023 and KABP033) and Pediococcus acidilacti strain (KABP021) – in 293 COVID-19 outpatients with mild symptoms. The once daily supplement was administered for 30 days, and specific clinical endpoints (including remission rate and duration of symptoms), nasopharyngeal and serum biomarkers and the impact of the formula on fecal microbiome were assessed.

After the intervention, complete remission was achieved by 53.1% of patients in the probiotic group and 28.1% in the placebo group. Probiotic supplementation also reduced nasopharyngeal viral load, lung infiltrates and duration of digestive and non-digestive symptoms compared to the placebo group, and was well-tolerated. No notable compositional changes were detected in fecal microbiota, but the probiotic supplementation did significantly increase specific IgM and IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV2. This suggests that the probiotic formula influenced the GLA primarily via the host’s immune system, rather than altering colonic microbiota composition. Further research is required to confirm the mechanism of action. Importantly, the probiotic immune effects reported in the study cannot be extrapolated to other probiotic formulations, because of the specific strains used.

 “The positive findings reported by this study are an important step forward in our continued efforts to support COVID-19 patients,” comments MD Pedro Gutiérrez-Castrellón. “Few trials to date have found effective approaches for reducing symptom duration and viral load in COVID-19 outpatients. Therefore an oral probiotic that helps to reduce viral load, lung infiltrates and symptom duration – like the AB21 probiotic intervention trialed in this study – could help to support COVID-19 outpatients more cost-effectively, and in addition to standard recognized therapies.”

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[] Gutiérrez-Castrellón, P. et al. Probiotic improves symptomatic and viral clearance in Covid19 outpatients: a randomized, quadruple-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.2018899 14, (2022)

[i] King S, Glanville J, Sanders ME, Fitzgerald A, Varley D. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr 2014; 112:41–54.

[ii] Hao Q, Dong BR, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev.2015; 2015:CD006895.