A new study has found that a branded probiotic formulation may have significant positive effects in COVID-19 patients.

The clinical trial,published in Gut Microbes,used the AB21 probiotic formulation from Kaneka Group/AB-Biotics, which consists ofLactiplantibacillus plantarumstrains KABP022, KABP023, and KABP033 andPediococcus acidilacticistrain KABP021. The study gave 293 COVID-19 outpatients with mild symptoms either a placebo or AB21 once daily for 30 days.

The idea behind the study rests on the concept of the gut-lung axis, according to a press release from Kaneka Group, which involves a cross-talk between intestinal and pulmonary tissues via microbiome and immune cells. The hypothesis being tested was that probiotics may therefore benefit COVID-19 patients by influencing this axis.

Following the intervention:
  • Complete remission was achieved by 53.1% of patients in the intervention group, compared to 28.1% in the placebo group.
  • Supplementation reduced nasopharyngeal viral load, lung infiltrates, and duration of both digestive and non-digestive symptoms as compared to the placebo group.
  • No notable compositional changes were detected in fecal microbiota, but supplementation did significantly increase specific IgM and IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that the probiotic influenced the gut-lung axis primarily via the immune system, rather than by altering colonic microbiota composition.

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“The positive findings reported by this study are an important step forward in our continued efforts to support COVID-19 patients,” commented Pedro Gutiérrez-Castrellón, M.D., in the press release. “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.”