In a prospective study in infants with a family history of atopy a specific prebiotic oligosaccharide mixture (90% short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and 10% long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (GOS/FOS; IMMUNOFORTIS) reduced the cumulative incidence of atopic dermatitis at 6 months of age(1). In a subgroup of these infants (n 84) it was possible to obtain a blood sample at 6 months of age to analyse the potential effect of these dietary oligosaccharides on the Ig profile.
In this prospective double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study the infants received a hypoallergenic formula with either 8 g GOS/FOS/l or 8 g/ maltodextrin (placebo)/l for 6 months. At 3 months of age children were vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTP). At 6 months of age total plasma levels of IgE, IgG1, IgG2, IgG3 and IgG4 as well as cow's-milk protein (CMP)- and DTP-specific Ig were measured by ELISA.
Supplementation with GOS/FOS led to a significant reduction in plasma levels of total IgE (P=0.007), IgG2 (P=0.029) and IgG3 (P=0.0343) whereas no significant effect on IgG4 was observed. The plasma levels of CMP-specific IgG1 was significantly decreased (P=0.015) in the GOS/FOS group. The levels of CMP-specific IgE were very low and no effect of GOS/FOS supplementation was observed. CMP-specific IgG4 was not detectable in the samples. No effect of GOS/FOS supplementation on any vaccine-specific antibody isotype levels was found.
Evidently, GOS/FOS supplementation induced an anti-allergic Ig profile in infants at high risk for allergic diseases while the desired specific immune responses were unaffected, indicating the potential role of oral GOS/FOS exposure for primary prevention of allergies.