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Probiotic yogurt in the elderly with intestinal bacterial overgrowth: endotoxaemia and innate immune functions


A study was conducted in healthy elderly living independently in senior housing to assess the impact of a probiotic yoghurt supplement on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Twenty-three participants with positive and thirteen participants with negative hydrogen breath test were studied before and after a period of 4 weeks of probiotic yoghurt administration. Intestinal permeability, plasma endotoxin levels, phagocytic activity of leucocytes, cytokine production by monocytes and free radical response of neutrophils were determined. Intestinal permeability was similar for the two groups and was unaffected by probiotic treatment. Both plasma endotoxin levels and the basal phagocytic activity of leucocytes decreased after yoghurt intake in the two groups. Exposure of monocytes and neutrophils ex vivo led to an increased cytokine response and free radical response, respectively. The normalisation of the various cytokine responses was more apparent in the group with positive breath test. In addition, the plasma levels of lipoplysaccharide binding protein and soluble CD14, lipoplysaccharide pattern recognition receptors and surrogate markers of lipoplysaccharide permeability were diminished by the end of the study. In conclusion, probiotic administration in the elderly normalises the response to endotoxin, and modulates activation markers in blood phagocytes, and therefore may help reduce low-grade chronic inflammation.

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*Corresponding author: Dr Eduardo J. Schiffrin, Nestlé Nutrition, Nestec Ltd, Avenue Reller 22, CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland, fax +41 21 924 7894, email
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