Probiotics and the Immune System


Annotated Bibliography

  • Gill, H. S., & Guarner, F. (2004). Probiotics and human health: A clinical perspective. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 80, 516-526.

This journal article aims to ascertain from a clinical perspective the efficacy of probiotics in human health. Gill and Guarner (2004) discuss the undeniable evidence pointing that probiotics can be effective in the treatment or management of infectious diarrhea among children. Gill and Guarner (2004) define probiotics as microorganisms that confer health benefits when administered in adequate amounts. The article also strives to prove that the administration or ingestion of probiotics can be effective in preventing antibiotic bacteria linked to nosocomial diarrhea. This journal also covers evidence relating to the effectiveness of probiotics on the control or prevention of pediatric atopic diseases, as well as, the prevention of postoperative surgery. Gill and Guarner (2004) outline that probiotics can enhance immune functions, particularly in people with an immune less than adequate. The authors also highlight that efficacy of probiotics in the management of ulcerative cancer and prevention of diarrhea was unproven as per their writing. An inverse connection between probiotics and the episodes of breast cancer is also discussed. Gill and Guarner (2004) show that the medical ingestion of probiotics normalizes immune functionality, repressing allergies and reducing the prevalence of pathogenic infections in humans. In the same context, the article highlights the effectiveness of probiotics in the deterrence of sepsis-related to severe acute pancreatitis. These observations are relevant to the counterargument about the relation between probiotics and immune systems. Besides the evidence of efficacy, Gill and Guarner (2004) note that there are gaps in the medical field about the mechanisms through which probiotics adjust physiological functions and the accurate dose and frequency of probiotics administration. Gill and Garner's evidence-based article is useful and relevant to this study because it theorizes that consumption of probiotics down deregulates immune responses to hosts with immuno-inflammatory disorders, such as atopic disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. To that end, the authors recommend that further research is considered crucial in the area to ensure that probiotics are administered safely. This is in congruence with the report by Hempel, et al. (2011) titled Safety of Probiotics to Reduce Risk and Prevent or Treat Disease. To this end, this insightful and unbiased clinical perspective on probiotics and human health would serve as a valuable resource for the research about probiotics and immune systems.

  • Guarino, A., Quigley, E. M., & Walker, W. A. (Eds.). (2013). Probiotic bacteria and their effect on human health and well-being. Basel: Karger.

Guarino, Quigley, and Walker (2013) expound on the data and arguments supporting the divergent views on probiotics and the immune system. Hence, the book presented by these editors is significant to the research question. Given that Guarino, Quigley, and Walker’s book is based on the most recent scholarly researches, it would be used as the primary source of information to support both perspectives of the research question. Numerous studies performed to investigate the influence of different probiotics organisms on immune parameters, inflammatory conditions, and infectious outcomes in humans are highlighted in the book. Guarino, Quigley, and Walker (2013) recognize the fact that the medical ingestion of probiotics can be effective in the treatment and prevention of some acute infectious diseases. This is ascertained by citations from numerous evidence-based studies regarding the efficacy of probiotics. Besides, the authors prospectively show that specific microbes can prevent atopic disease. The overall picture that emerges in this book is that probiotics can be used to prevent and treat various infections, ultimately improving immunity, but more research is needed to supplement the studies. The pharmacology, safety, drug interaction, use, dose, and incongruity of probiotics are discussed. Guarino, Quigley, and Walker (2013) theorize that probiotics improve immunity by maintaining a healthy environment in the host gastrointestinal tract. This is in agreement with Schrezenmeir and de Varese's resources titled Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics—Approaching a Definition. Additionally, the book is relevant to the research topic because it contains information that expounds on Gill and Garner's article regarding the degradation and detoxification of carcinogenic enzymes. The presence of tables, charts, and graphs in the book makes it illustrative and valuable for the study. In line with the other resources cited in this annotated bibliography, Guarino, Quigley, and Walker (2013) present facts indicating that probiotic administration deregulates overactive immune reactions in hosts with autoimmune disorders like allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and atopic dermatitis. As of consequence, certain immune functions in humans are improved. Despite this observation, the conclusive statements of the authors point out that clear design and evaluation criteria for future studies are essential. By deducing from the cases and the supporting literature provided, open-ended dialogue among clinical scientists, regulatory entities and consumers may bridge the gap between scientific research and promotion of probiotics.

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  • Hempel, S., Newberry, S., Ruelaz, A., Wang, Z., Miles, J. N., Suttorp, M. J., . . . Shekelle, P. (2011, April). Safety of probiotics to reduce risk and prevent or treat disease. Evidence report/technology assessment no. 200. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Retrieved from

The central theme of this report is the safety of probiotics that are supposed to minimize risks and prevent or treat diseases. The information reported is intended to assist clinicians, policymakers, employers, and other key stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding the provision of safe health care services. Hempel, et al. (2011) cover 12 electronic databases, citations for the covered studies, and relevant reviews for researchers discussing the safety of probiotics. As a matter of fact, the report serves as a reference; thereby, making it suitable for the study question. About evaluation methods, the resource identifies intervention researches about probiotics that indicated the absence of undesirable health outcomes on humans. In the same perspective, the authors investigated quality, quantity, and the nature of the effects. This evidence report features a considerable number of studies. It also explores a large number of research questions surrounding the safety of probiotics. Unlike other reviews and resources on probiotics, it does not address the effectiveness or efficacy of probiotics in the prevention, treatment, or management of clinical symptoms. These aspects are critical for a risk-benefit analysis. Overall, this resource has a broader scope, attributed to a large number of the cited studies; hence, allows unique statistical analyses. The large sample sizes ease the determination of statistically significant occurrence rates of any probiotics-related adverse effects. The text is reliable based on the fact that it was built on the studies conducted by the Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Centre (EPC). Therefore, it can be used partly or wholly as the pillar of developing clinical guidelines and other quality-based enrichment structures, or as a basis for insurance and reimbursement policies. The strength of this report is attributed to the fact that its assessments provide scholars and organizations with comprehensive, science-based information on new health care technologies. In summary, this evidence-based report and healthcare technology reviews are expected to not only provide information for individual health plans but also to inform the whole healthcare system. This is achieved by providing relevant information to aid in improving health care quality.

  • Schrezenmeir, J., & de Vrese, M. (2001). Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics—approaching a definition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(2), 361-364.

Schrezenmeir and de Vrese (2001) give the definitions of probiotics, synbiotics, and prebiotics from a broad perspective to outline their functional difference and importance about immune systems, as well as the prevention and treatment of different infectious diseases. The authors employ numerous reliable resources to elucidate the probiotics and their application in the prevention and treatment of some infectious diseases. The emerging definition is that probiotics are non-pathogenic microorganisms administered by physicians to improve the sensitive microbial balance, especially within the gastrointestinal tract. This text is relevant to the topic because it provides a fundamental understanding of probiotics and the immune system. It also supplements other resources cited in this annotated bibliography in the sense that it explains how probiotics modulate various mechanisms including decreasing invasion and colonization by a pathogenic microorganism, lowering pH, and modifying the immune system of subjects. From this resource, it is evident that probiotics bacteria exert influence on both the development and functioning of the human body. This detail is relevant to the discourse because it expounds on how probiotics interact with various human systems including the immune, endocrine, digestive and nervous systems. This journal article is useful and relevant to the study topic because different definitions of probiotics from various investigators are discussed critically. About this subject, Schrezenmeir and de Vrese (2001) confine the concept of probiotics to the effects exerted by viable microorganisms. Besides probiotics, this article defines related terms and their origins. This is relevant to the research question because they contribute to the understanding of the health effects of ingesting probiotics. In agreement with the other mentioned resources, Schrezenmeir and de Vrese (2001) note that probiotics reduce allergic symptoms, relieve hosts from constipation, reduce cholesterol concentration, and Helicobacter pylori infection, as well as it is essential for cancer prevention.

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