Objective: Various lines of evidence suggest that malfunctioning of the gut–liver axis contributes to hepatic damage of rodents and humans with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. We evaluated the effects of short-term probiotic treatment in children with obesity-related liver disease who were noncompliant with lifestyle interventions.
Patients and Methods: Twenty obese children (age 10.7 ± 2.1 years) with persisting hypertransaminasemia and ultrasonographic (US) bright liver were enrolled in this double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. At baseline, patients underwent clinical and laboratory anthropometric evaluation, measurement of the US hepatorenal ratio, standard liver function tests, oral glucose tolerance test, serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha, the glucose hydrogen breath test, and evaluation of serum antibodies to antipeptidoglycan-polysaccharide polymers. After exclusion of causes of liver disease other than obesity, patients received either probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (12 billion CFU/day) or placebo for 8 weeks.
Results: Multivariate analysis after probiotic treatment revealed a significant decrease in alanine aminotransferase (average variation vs placebo P = 0.03) and in antipeptidoglycan-polysaccharide antibodies (average variation vs placebo P = 0.03) irrespective of changes in BMI z score and visceral fat. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and US bright liver parameters remained fairly stable.
Conclusions: Probiotic L rhamnosus strain GG warrants consideration as a therapeutic tool to treat hypertransaminasemia in hepatopathic obese children noncompliant with lifestyle interventions.
*Departments of Pediatrics, Italy
†Experimental Pharmacology, Italy
‡Radiology, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
§Pediatria AORN Santobono, Naples, Italy
||Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri IRCCS Istituto di Telese, Benevento, Italy.
Received 21 February, 2011
Accepted 13 April, 2011
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof Pietro Vajro, Dipartimento di Pediatria, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy (e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
This work was partly funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) PRIN 2005.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.