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Probiotics in primary sclerosing cholangitis: a randomized placebo-controlled crossover pilot study

Vleggaar, Frank P.; Monkelbaan, Jan F.; van Erpecum, Karel J.

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: July 2008 - Volume 20 - Issue 7 - p 688-692
doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e3282f5197e
Original Articles: Scerosing Cholangitis

Background Beneficial effects of probiotics have been reported in liver disease. Inflammatory bowel disease concurs in 90% of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) patients, suggesting that substances originating from the inflamed gut may damage the biliary tree.

Objective To assess potential beneficial effects of probiotics on serum liver tests, pruritus and fatigue in PSC.

Methods Fourteen patients (13 male/one female, mean age 45 years), with concurrent inflammatory bowel disease were randomized to treatment with probiotics (Ecologic 641, containing four Lactobacillus and two Bifidobacillus strains; Winclove Bio Industries, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) or placebo during 3 months in a double-blind fashion. After a 1-month washout period, crossover was made.

Results No changes in pruritus, fatigue and stool frequency were noted during placebo or probiotics. No significant differences were observed between treatment with probiotics and placebo in bilirubin (at end of probiotic vs. placebo period: −13 vs. −15% change from baseline; P=0.89), alkaline phosphatase (−9 vs. −9%; P=0.99), γ glutamyl transpeptidase (−11 vs. −5%; P=0.60), aspartate aminotransferase (−16 vs. −15%; P=0.99), alanine aminotransferase (−27 vs. −26%; P=0.97), prothrombin, albumin or bile salts.

Conclusion Our data do not support beneficial effects of probiotics on symptoms, liver biochemistry or liver function in PSC.

Department of Gastroenterology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Frank P. Vleggaar, MD, PhD, Department of Gastroenterology, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 30 2509111; fax: +31 30 2505533; e-mail: f.vleggaar@umcutrecht.nl

Received 18 September 2007 Accepted 3 December 2007

© 2008 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins