Objective: The aim of this study was to study the effect of continued Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain (LGG) feeding on rotavirus gastroenteritis in the gnotobiotic (Gn) pig model of virulent human rotavirus (HRV) infection.
Methods: Gn pigs were assigned to treatment groups: mock control, LGG only, HRV only, or LGG plus HRV. Nine days before HRV inoculation (3 days of age), pigs were fed LGG with a daily dose increase of 10-fold from 103 to 1012 colony-forming units (CFU). The 1012 CFU/dose of LGG feeding continued until post-HRV inoculation day (PID) 6. Clinical sign (diarrhea), rotavirus fecal shedding, histopathology of the ileum, adherent junction and tight junction protein expression in the ileal epithelial cells, mucin production in the large and small intestinal contents, and serum cytokine responses from PID 2 to 6 were examined and compared among the treatment groups.
Results: Clinically, the percentage of pigs developing diarrhea, the mean duration of diarrhea, and the mean cumulative fecal scores were lower in the LGG fed pigs compared to the nonfed pigs after HRV inoculation. LGG partially protected ileal epithelium against HRV-induced compensatory increases of the adherent junction protein α-catenin and β-catenin, tight junction protein occludin, claudin-3 and claudin-4, and leak protein claudin-2. LGG promoted mucin production because the mucin levels in the large intestinal contents of the LGG+HRV pigs were significantly higher than the HRV-only pigs on PID 2. Additionally, LGG maintained the anti-inflammatory cytokine transforming growth factor-β level in serum after HRV infection.
Conclusions: LGG is moderately effective for ameliorating rotavirus diarrhea by partially preventing injuries to the epithelium.