HEALTH AMC Research Team Finds that Probiotics Help Mitigate Influenza Infection 2023.12.12

Professor Mi-Na Kweon


Recent research has revealed that probiotics, beneficial microorganisms in the human body, can help mitigate influenza virus infection.


Asan Medical Center research team, led by Professor Mi-Na Kweon and Dr. Seungil Kim of the Department of Convergence Medicine/Microbiology, studied mouse models infected with the influenza virus by dividing them into two groups: one group received probiotics injections, and the other did not. After observing the mice, it was found that the mice with probiotics intake experienced reduced lung damage caused by infection and increased type-I interferon, an antiviral substance. In contrast, the mice without probiotics intake produced relatively few antiviral substances and showed vulnerability to influenza virus infection. Additionally, the antiviral effect decreased in mice with artificially impaired interferon receptors because they did not receive interferon signals activated by probiotics.


The research team looked closely at the intestines and lungs of the mice that consumed probiotics, discovering a significant amount of probiotics-derived fatty acid (palmitic acid). This fatty acid was confirmed to stimulate the production of antiviral substances in the lungs, establishing the concept of the gut-lung axis.


Professor Mi-Na Kweon said, “I hope our research findings will contribute to future studies on immune system defense and mitigation of viral infections using microbiome, such as probiotics.”


The National Research Foundation of Korea funded this research as a research-based project for mid-career researchers and creativity challenges. The findings were recently published in the international academic journal ‘Microbiome.’