Life Extension Magazine®
Probiotic S. salivarius as yellow and red spheres inhibiting strep throat inducing bacteria

Probiotic Helps Prevent Strep Throat

Strep throat can have complications such as rheumatic heart disease and kidney damage. In human trials, a novel probiotic reduced the incidence of strep throat by 84% in adults and 97% in children.

By Michael Downey.

A sore throat, sudden fever, swollen lymph nodes.

If these symptoms come without a cough and runny nose, you may have strep throat.1,2

Strep throat accounts for up to 15% of sore throat infections in adults and up to 30% in children.

It’s caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A Streptococcus.3

Researchers in New Zealand identified a probiotic called Streptococcus salivarius that secretes compounds that can control growth of the bacteria that causes strep throat.

Clinical trials have shown that oral intake of this probiotic may safely prevent strep throat.4-9

It can also help protect against tonsillitis caused by the same bacteria.4-9

In one clinical trial, adults who took S. salivarius K12 daily for 90 days had an 84% reduction in their incidence of strep throat or tonsillitis, compared with the previous year.6

In another trial, children who took the probiotic daily for 90 days had a 97% reduction in strep throat compared with the previous year.8

In the same trial, this probiotic also reduced the incidence of viral sore throats by 80%.8

Strep is Serious

Woman having strep throat test being done for the bacteria streptococcus

Strep throat is marked by a painful sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and the sudden onset of fever.1,2

Most sore throats, like those associated with a cold, are caused by a virus.10 These cases seldom have dangerous complications and are generally left to run their course.

Strep throat is different. It gets its name from the bacteria that cause it—group A Streptococcus (or S. pyogenes).

Strep throat can lead to serious consequences if not treated properly. It may:11

  • Spread to surrounding tissues, causing sinus or ear infections,
  • Produce a toxin that causes a scarlet fever rash,
  • Lead to rheumatic fever, inflaming joints and potentially damaging valves of the heart, and
  • Cause kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis), that can trigger chronic kidney problems.

To avoid these complications, and because strep throat is highly contagious, it may be best to promptly treat it with antibiotics.

But it would be far better to prevent strep throat in the first place.

Scientists have now shown that there is a safe and effective way to help block strep-causing bacteria from taking hold and causing infection.

A Novel Probiotic

A strain of Streptococcus salivarius has the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes strep throat.

Scientists analyzing S. salivarius K12 found that it produces compounds called lantibiotics.12

These peptides (strings of amino acids) inhibit strains of disease-producing bacteria, including group A Streptococcus.12

S. salivarius K12 produces a specific peptide called salivaricin A2 that targets group A Streptococcus to inhibit growth.13-15 This lantibiotic works like a drill, forming holes in the cell walls of the targeted bacteria, causing them to break apart and die.16-18

Effective in Adults

Woman taking lozenges containing S. salivarius K12 for reduced strep-throat episodes

Researchers enlisted adult volunteers with a history of recurrent strep throat or bacterial tonsillitis (caused by the same bacteria) for a clinical trial.

All participants were symptom-free at enrollment. They were given either no treatment or a daily lozenge containing probiotic S. salivarius K12 organisms for 90 days.

The results found:6

  • Adults who took S. salivarius had an 84% reduction in their incidence of strep throat or tonsillitis, compared with the previous year.
  • During a six-month, no-treatment follow-up, patients who had taken S. salivarius K12 still had a 62% reduction in episodes of strep throat or tonsillitis, compared with the untreated group.

This study demonstrated that preventive probiotic use with S. salivarius K12 successfully and significantly reduced the rate of recurrent strep.

What you need to know

Zoomed in S. salivarius K12 and streptococcus within the throat

Prevent Strep Throat

  • Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a painful sore throat and fever. It can also lead to serious complications, including heart and kidney damage.
  • A strain of Streptococcus salivarius obstructs the growth of bacteria that causes strep throat.
  • Lozenges containing the probiotic S. salivarius K12 have been clinically shown to protect against strep throat in both adults and children.
  • In two clinical trials, S. salivarius K12 reduced the incidence of strep throat by as much as 84% in adults and 97% in children.

Effective in Children

Scientists were eager to determine whether this probiotic afforded the same protection to children, who tend to suffer from strep throat more often than adults.

A study was conducted on children ages 3-13 years with recurrent strep throat. They were given either a lozenge containing no fewer than one billion colony-forming units of S. salivarius K12 or no therapy for 90 days.8

Children who took the probiotic had a 97% reduction in strep throat, from an average baseline of 3.1 infections per child in the previous year to just 0.1 per child on average. No significant change was seen in the untreated group.8

In addition, children who took S. salivarius had an 80% decrease in the incidence of viral throat infections.8 This reduction may be related to the ability of S. salivarius K12 to reduce inflammation and increase levels of antiviral compounds.8

Summary

Physician feeling woman's throat for physical symptoms of strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that afflicts children and adults. It can have dangerous complications, including rheumatic heart disease and kidney damage.

The probiotic strain S. salivarius K12 helps control the growth of bacteria that cause strep throat and may reduce the incidence of the condition itself.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that oral intake of S. salivarius K12 helped prevent strep infections in adults and children.

This probiotic has also shown an ability to confer protection against viral throat infections.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/strep-throat.html. Accessed August 26, 2021.
  2. Shulman ST, Bisno AL, Clegg HW, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis: 2012 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Nov 15;55(10):e86-102.
  3. Ashurst JV E-GL. Streptococcal Pharyngitis. StatPearls Publishing. 2021.
  4. Di Pierro F, Risso P, Poggi E, et al. Use of Streptococcus salivarius K12 to reduce the incidence of pharyngo-tonsillitis and acute otitis media in children: a retrospective analysis in not-recurrent pediatric subjects. Minerva Pediatr. 2018 Jun;70(3):240-5.
  5. Di Pierro F, Colombo M, Giuliani MG, et al. Effect of administration of Streptococcus salivarius K12 on the occurrence of streptococcal pharyngo-tonsillitis, scarlet fever and acute otitis media in 3 years old children. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Nov;20(21):4601-6.
  6. Di Pierro F, Adami T, Rapacioli G, et al. Clinical evaluation of the oral probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 in the prevention of recurrent pharyngitis and/or tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes in adults. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2013 Mar;13(3):339-43.
  7. Di Pierro F, Donato G, Fomia F, et al. Preliminary pediatric clinical evaluation of the oral probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 in preventing recurrent pharyngitis and/or tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes and recurrent acute otitis media. Int J Gen Med. 2012;5:991-7.
  8. Di Pierro F, Colombo M, Zanvit A, et al. Use of Streptococcus salivarius K12 in the prevention of streptococcal and viral pharyngotonsillitis in children. Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2014;6:15-20.
  9. Gregori G, Righi O, Risso P, et al. Reduction of group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus pharyngo-tonsillar infections associated with use of the oral probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12: a retrospective observational study. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2016;12:87-92.
  10. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635. Accessed August 31, 2021.
  11. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554528/. Accessed August 26, 2021.
  12. Barbour A, Wescombe P, Smith L. Evolution of Lantibiotic Salivaricins: New Weapons to Fight Infectious Diseases. Trends Microbiol. 2020 Jul;28(7):578-93.
  13. Hyink O, Wescombe PA, Upton M, et al. Salivaricin A2 and the novel lantibiotic salivaricin B are encoded at adjacent loci on a 190-kilobase transmissible megaplasmid in the oral probiotic strain Streptococcus salivarius K12. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Feb;73(4):1107-13.
  14. Wescombe PA, Upton M, Dierksen KP, et al. Production of the lantibiotic salivaricin A and its variants by oral streptococci and use of a specific induction assay to detect their presence in human saliva. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Feb;72(2):1459-66.
  15. Walls T, Power D, Tagg J. Bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) production by the normal flora of the nasopharynx: potential to protect against otitis media? J Med Microbiol. 2003 Sep;52(Pt 9):829-33.
  16. Negash AW, Tsehai BA. Current Applications of Bacteriocin. Int J Microbiol. 2020 2020/11/03;2020:4374891.
  17. Geng M, Austin F, Shin R, et al. Covalent Structure and Bioactivity of the Type AII Lantibiotic Salivaricin A2. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2018 Mar 1;84(5):e02528-17.
  18. Simons A, Alhanout K, Duval RE. Bacteriocins, Antimicrobial Peptides from Bacterial Origin: Overview of Their Biology and Their Impact against Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria. Microorganisms. 2020 Apr 27;8(5):639.