People with stomach ulcers may benefit from probiotics to speed up recovery, suggest results from an animal study from Hong Kong.
The report, published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, looked at the effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, one of the most extensively studied strains of probiotics, on gastric ulcer induced in rats.
"In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that a probiotic strain L. rhamnosus GG is capable of accelerating gastric ulcer healing," wrote lead author Emily Lama from the University of Hong Kong.
Stomach or peptic ulcers are a small hole or erosion in the gastrointestinal tract. Most stomach ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, with some studies already showing that probiotics may have benefits against these types of bacteria. According to statistics from the US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, peptic ulcers affect 14.5 million Americans.
The new research, if it can be reproduced in humans, suggests that probiotics may also offer benefits for people already suffering from stomach ulcers.
Lama and co-workers used acetic acid to induce ulcers in rats and the animals were then given L. rhamnosus GG intragastrically for three days. It was observed that the probiotics successfully colonised in the stomach lining, especially around the ulcer.
A mechanistic study suggested that the probiotics influenced protein expression in the stomach wall cells, which led to increases in the formation of new blood cells and increased healing of the ulcer.
The proteins identified were classified as ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
"It is still uncertain whether it is the live L. rhamnosus GG, its metabolites, its cell wall components and/or its DNA signal the ulcer healing processes in the stomach," said the researchers.
"It is important to note that L. rhamnosus GG supplementation did not result in any observable changes in the sham-operated groups regardless of the parameters measured. This is particularly important that L. rhamnosus GG supplementation does not affect the physiological function of a normal gastric mucosa but normalize those with abnormal changes during ulceration," they added.
Source: European Journal of Pharmacology (Elsevier)
Volume 565, Issues 1-3, Pages 171-179
"Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG enhances gastric ulcer healing in rats"
Authors: Emily K.Y. Lama, L. Yua, H.P.S. Wonga, W.K.K. Wuc, V.Y. Shina, E.K.K. Taia, W.H.L. Soa, P.C.Y. Woob and C.H. Cho