Heat-killed lactobacillus brevis enhances phagocytic activity and generates immune-stimulatory effects through activating the TAK1 pathway

Minju Jeong, Jae Hwan Kim, Ji Su Lee, Shin Dal Kang, Sangmin Shim, Moon Young Jung, Hee Yang, Sanguine Byun, Ki Won Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


There is an increasing interest in using inactivated probiotics to modulate the host immune system and protect against pathogens. As the immunomodulatory function of heat-killed Lactobacillus brevis KCTC 12777BP (LBB) and its mechanism is unclear, we investigated the effect of LBB on immune response based on the hypothesis that LBB might exert stimulatory effects on immunity. In the current study, we demonstrate that administration of LBB can exert immune-stimulatory effects and promote clearance of foreign matters through enhancing phagocytosis. Treatment with LBB induced the production of TNF-α, IL-6, and nitric oxide in macrophages. Importantly, LBB directly increased the phagocytic activity of macrophages against bacterial particles. LBB was able to promote the production of TNF-α in bone marrow-derived macrophages and splenocytes and also increase the proliferation rate of splenocytes, suggesting that the immune-stimulating activity of LBB can be observed in primary immune cells. Investigation into the molecular mechanism responsible revealed that LBB upregulates TAK1 activity and its downstream ERK, p38, and JNK signaling pathways. To further confirm the immunomodulatory capability of LBB in vivo, we orally administered LBB to mice and assessed the effect on primary splenocytes. Splenocytes isolated from LBB-treated mice exhibited higher TNF-α expression and proliferative capacity. These results show that heat-killed L. brevis, a wildly consumed probiotic, may provide protection against pathogens through enhancing host immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1403
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of microbiology and biotechnology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 28

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the SPC Group. This work was also supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning) [No. 2018R1A2A1A05078707 and 2020R1A2C1010703]. Shin Dal Kang, Sangmin Shim and Moon Young Jung are employed by the SPC group, and they, along with the other authors, declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 by The Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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