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Probiotic Yogurt Consumption is Associated With an Increase of CD4 Count Among People Living With HIV/AIDS

Irvine, Stephanie L. BSc; Hummelen, Ruben MSc; Hekmat, Sharareh PhD; W. N. Looman, Caspar MSc; Habbema, J. Dik F. PhD; Reid, Gregor PhD, MBA

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: October 2010 - Volume 44 - Issue 9 - p e201-e205
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181d8fba8
ONLINE ARTICLES: Original Articles

Aim To evaluate the long term effect of yogurt supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus Fiti on the immune function (CD4 count) of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Background Gastrointestinal infections and the leakage of microbial products from the gut have a profound impact on the deterioration of the immune system among people living with HIV/AIDS. Among persons not infected with the virus, probiotics can prevent gastrointestinal infections and restore an effective gut barrier, suggesting they might have a beneficial effect on the immune function of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Study We carried out an observational retrospective study over a period of 3 years, with longitudinal comparison of the CD4 count within participants (n=68) before and during probiotic yogurt consumption, and compared with a control group of participants not consuming the yogurt (n=82).

Results Among the yogurt consumers before use and the nonconsumers, an average increase in CD4 count was seen of 0.13 cells/μL/day (95% CI; 0.07-0.20, P=<0.001). After commencing consumption, yogurt consumers experienced an additional increase of 0.28 cells/μL/day (95% CI; 0.10-0.46, P=0.003). When adjusting for length of time using antiretroviral medication, the additional increase explained by yogurt consumption remained 0.17 cells/μL/day (95% CI; 0.01-0.34, P=0.04). Treatment with antiretroviral medication was associated with an increase of 0.27 cells/μL/day (95% CI; 0.17-0.38, P=<0.001).

Conclusion The introduction of probiotic yogurt, made by local women in a low-income community in Tanzania, was significantly associated with an increase in CD4 count among consumers living with HIV.

*Brescia University College

§Departments of Microbiology, Immunology, and Surgery, the University of Western Ontario

Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics, Lawson Health Research Institute, London, Canada

Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The project is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency and the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

Reprints: Ruben Hummelen, MSc, Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics, Lawson Health Research Institute, 268 Grosvenor Street, N6A 4V2, London, Ontario, Canada (e-mail:

Received for publication September 2, 2009; accepted February 11, 2010

G.R. no longer owns patents of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, and neither he nor any of the other authors have any conflicts of interest.

Stephanie L. Irvine, BSc and Ruben Hummelen, MSc; these authors are equal contributors.

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