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07-06-2011 | Gastroenterology | Article

Probiotic bacteria may be effective treatment for IBD


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study findings suggest that patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) could be treated with a protein derived from a probiotic bacteria found naturally in the gut and in dairy products.

"These data define what we believe to be a previously unrecognized mechanism of probiotic-derived soluble proteins in protecting the intestine from injury and inflammation," say Fang Yan (Vanderbilt university Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA) and co-authors.

For the study, the team first analyzed the mechanisms by which the probiotic bacteria-derived soluble protein, p40, from Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) regulates cellular responses in intestinal epithelial cells.

Indeed, in a previous study Yan et al found that LGG was effective for preventing cytokine-induced intestinal epithelial damage and apoptosis. "Strategies that promote maintenance of intestinal epithelial integrity may serve as effective approaches for treatment of IBD and other cytokine-mediated intestinal disorders," say the authors.

Findings from the current study showed that p40 activates epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), resulting in amelioration of cytokine-induced apoptosis and disruption of barrier integrity in intestinal epithelial cells.

The researchers then evaluated the role of p40 in dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced intestinal epithelial injury and acute colitis and oxazolone-induced Th2 cytokine-drive chronic colitis in mice.

When mice were given orally-administered p40, DSS-induced colon epithelial injury and inflammation was successfully treated and prevented, oxazolone-induced colitis was ameliorated by oral p40. However, p40 was shown to reduce intestinal epithelial apoptosis and disruption of barrier function in both mouse models.

In an associated commentary, Fayez Ghishan (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA) said: "While they are generally safe, and marked as 'natural' cures, there is still insufficient data that would allow us to definitively say that probiotics treat autoimmune disease or improve human health in general."

Ghishan adds that while the results of the study are promising, they will require replication in studies in humans before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

"Our findings provide a rationale for conducting new hypothesis-driven studies to define the clinical efficacy of probiotic-derived proteins in preventive, adjunctive, or alternative treatment s for intestinal inflammatory disorders," conclude the authors in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Ingrid Grasmo