Journal Article

Probiotic Agents and Infectious Diseases: A Modern Perspective on a Traditional Therapy

Martha I. Alvarez-Olmos and Richard A. Oberhelman

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 32, issue 11, pages 1567-1576
Published in print June 2001 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online June 2001 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/320518
Probiotic Agents and Infectious Diseases: A Modern Perspective on a Traditional Therapy

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There is an increasing scientific and commercial interest in the use of beneficial microorganisms, or “probiotics,” for the prevention and treatment of disease. The microorganisms most frequently used as probiotic agents are lactic-acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which has been extensively studied in recent literature. Multiple mechanisms of action have been postulated, including lactose digestion, production of antimicrobial agents, competition for space or nutrients, and immunomodulation. We have reviewed recent studies of probiotics for the treatment and control of infectious diseases. Studies of pediatric diarrhea show substantial evidence of clinical benefits from probiotic therapy in patients with viral gastroenteritis, and data on LGG treatment for Clostridium difficile diarrhea appear promising. However, data to support use of probiotics for prevention of traveler's diarrhea are more limited. New research suggests potential applications in vaccine development and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Further studies are needed to take full advantage of this traditional medical approach and to apply it to the infectious diseases of the new millennium.

Journal Article.  7784 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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