Probiotics may put skids on infant diarrhoea

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotic bacteria, Probiotic

Supplements of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic
bacteria may provide added protection against gastro-intestinal
infection and diarrhoea in infants, suggests a new study.

The study, published in the open access journal BMC Microbiology​, was conducted in animals and showed that 59 per cent of animal subjects did not develop rotaviral diarrhoea when the probiotic was administered before infection with rotavirus. Every year more than 600,000 infants worldwide, primarily in developing countries, die from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus. Even in developed countries management of the infection costs economies an estimated $1 billion (€0.7 billion) a year. "The implications of this study are very positive for low-income countries​" said lead author Neha Pant. "Antibodies and probiotics could be used to complement the standard oral rehydration therapy for fluid loss during diarrhoea, and may help to relieve the immense disease burden posed by rotavirus in the developing world."​ Combating rotavirus infections is firmly in the pharma domain, with more and more effective vaccines being produced. However, according to background information in the article, the applicability of these worldwide is limited by financial constraints in many countries. Researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet and the University of Linköping, collaborating with scientists from Nestlé Research Center, compared the efficacy of six probiotic Lactobacillus strains in combating diarrhoea in animal models. The probiotics were administered prior to infection with rotavirus, with L. rhamnosus found to inhibit diarrhoea in 59 per cent of the animals. In comparison, only seven per cent of mice escaped rotavirus infection without probiotics. Pant and co-workers report that the other five probiotic strains tested were either less effective or ineffective. When used in combination with an antibody, hyperimmune bovine colostrums (HBC), intestinal measurements of viral loads confirmed that L. rhamnosus​ GG provided almost total protection at the low dose of 10 micrograms. On the other hand, when HBC was used alone, doses in the range of 100 micrograms were needed to offer protection, thus making a saving of up to 90 per cent on antibodies. "Probiotic bacteria offer a cheaper platform for the management of rotavirus diarrhea,"​ wrote the researchers. "Among the various mechanisms suggested for the action of probiotics is the ability to survive gut transit and in the process cause stabilization of the mucosal barrier, production of anti-microbial compounds and stimulation of the mucosal immune response leading to an increase in secretory IgA. "It is, however, difficult to determine whether the health promoting effects of the probiotic bacteria are due to a specific inhibition of the pathogen in question or a reflection of a more complex interaction between host, pathogen and the probiotic,"​ they added. Further research is necessary to answer these questions, as well as testing the efficacy of probiotics in real-world human populations. The probiotic bacteria tested included L. paracasei​ strain NCC 2461 (ST11), L. rhamnosus​ strain GG (ATCC 53103), L. johnsonii​ strain NCC 533 (La-1), L. rhamnosus​ strain NCC 596 (all obtained from Nestec, Nestlé), L. reuteri​ strain ATCC 55730 (obtained from Biogaia), and L. paracasei​ (obtained from TNO Institute). Source: BMC Microbiology​ 27 September 2007, 7​:86. doi:10.1186/1471-2180-7-86 "Effective prophylaxis against rotavirus diarrhea using a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and antibodies" ​Authors: N. Pant, H. Marcotte, H. Bruessow, L. Svensson and L. Hammarstrom

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