There is unequivocal evidence that administration of probiotics could be effective in the treatment of acute infectious diarrhoea in children and the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhoea and nosocomial/community acquired diarrhoea. Encouraging evidence is also emerging for the effectiveness of probiotics in the prevention and management of pouchitis and paediatric atopic diseases, and the prevention of postoperative infections. There is also strong evidence that certain probiotic strains are able to enhance immune function, especially in subjects with less than adequate immune function such as the elderly. Efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea, sepsis associated with severe acute pancreatitis, and cancers, the management of ulcerative colitis, and lowering of blood cholesterol remains unproven. In addition to firm evidence of efficacy (for a range of conditions), major gaps exist in our knowledge regarding the mechanisms by which probiotics modulate various physiological functions and the optimum dose, frequency, and duration of treatment for different probiotic strains.
- cfu, colony forming units
- IL, interleukin
- NK, natural killer (cells)
- SCORAD, SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (score)
- TNF-α, tumour necrosis factor-α
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