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Gut microbiota modulates lung immunity: Use Probiotics to fight against COVID-19 induced respiratory distress

There is a strong link between the gut and the lungs. As such, a healthy gut can help prevent and treat respiratory distress caused by COVID-19. Read on to know more.

The gut microbiome plays a dynamic role in initiating, adapting, and regulating the human immune response. A major part of the body's immune cells is found in the intestine, making the gut microbiome a decisive player in regulating the immune response in the gut and other organs. Studies have also highlighted evidence for crosstalk between the gut and lung microbiomes the 'gut-lung axis', with the gut microbiota modulating lung immunity. Changes in the composition of the gut microbiome have been linked to alterations in the immune responses and homeostasis of the lungs and increased susceptibility to respiratory diseases.

GI Symptoms of COVID-19

Coronavirus disease is primarily a respiratory infection, but it also affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. GI symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, GI bleed, and abdominal pain have been reported in patients with COVID, sometimes as the only presenting symptoms. Patients with disturbed gut flora may be more susceptible to COVID-19.

Probiotics can prevent and treat respiratory tract infections

Probiotics have been used for preventing and treating respiratory tract infections caused by viruses. Several possible mechanisms have been postulated, including direct probiotic virus interaction, production of antiviral inhibitory metabolites, and stimulation of the immune system through various signalling pathways. A possible role in preventing viral infections like COVID-19 has been suggested. Administration of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria has been shown to overcome the gut dysbiosis induced by SARS-CoV2 infection. A meta-analysis demonstrated decreased severity or shortened duration of disease with probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

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As new data emerge, a role for select strains of probiotics in ameliorating this disease will be welcome news.

References

  1. Allali I, et al. Gut-lung axis in COVID-19. Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2021 Mar 12; 2021:6655380.
  2. Kurian SJ, et al. Probiotics in prevention and treatment of COVID-19: Current perspective and prospects. Arch Med Res. 2021 Mar 19: S0188-4409(21)00047-3.
  3. Olaimat AN, et al. The potential application of probiotics and prebiotics for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. NPJ Sci Food. 2020 Oct 5; 4:17.
  4. Sundararaman A, et al. Role of probiotics to combat viral infections with emphasis on COVID-19. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Oct;104(19):8089-8104.

(This article is authored by Dr Philip Abraham, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, P D Hinduja Hospital and Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Mumbai)

Disclaimer: This article is the authors own professional/personal opinion and the publisher does not subscribe and/or has independently verified the same.

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