Probiotics found to reduce hepatic encephalopathy

April 25, 2013, European Association for the Study of the Liver

Probiotics could emerge as a treatment plan to manage hepatic encephalopathy (HE) therapy after a new study announced at the International Liver Congress 2013 found they significantly reduced development of the notoriously difficult-to-treat disease.

The study analysed the efficacy of probiotics in preventing the development of HE in 160 cirrhotic patients over a period of approximately nine months and found significant improvements in reducing patients' arterial ammonia levels after three months of treatment with probiotics.

Ammonia, produced by , is thought to be one of the main mediators of cerebral dysfunction in HE. Probiotics work by enriching the with a non-urease producing microorganisms, which decrease ammonia production. Probiotics are live microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that produce a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts.

Twice as many patients taking a placebo developed overt HE (the study's primary endpoint) compared to patients taking probiotics in the form of a capsule.

EASL's Treasurer, Prof. Mauro Bernardi welcomed the findings and said they would provide a positive impact for cirrhotic patients at risk of developing HE for whom the prognosis is typically very poor.

Prof. Bernardi said: "Hepatic encephalopathy is an insidious disease that's caused by an accumulation of toxins in the blood that are normally removed by the liver. Treatment normally involves the or laxatives to suppress the production of toxic substances in the intestine but there is still a great deal of room for improvement so it will be exciting to see the results of further studies to determine if clinicians have a new form of treatment on the cards."

Hepatic encephalopathy is a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities including , intellectual impairment and reduced levels of consciousness in patients with , after exclusion of other known brain disease.

Explore further: Cirrhotic patients experience increased daytime sleepiness from higher ammonia levels

More information: References:

1 M.K Lunia, AN OPEN LABEL RANDOMISED CONTROLLED TRIAL OF PROBIOTICS FOR PRIMARY PROPHYLAXIS OF HEPATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY IN PATIENTS WITH CIRRHOSIS. Presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2013

2 A. Agrawal, Secondary Prophylaxis of Hepatic Encephalopathy in Cirrhosis, An Open-Label, Randomized Controlled Trial of Lactulose, Probiotics, and No Therapy. Available www.medscape.com/viewarticle/767674_3 [Accessed 9/4/13]

3 World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organizationof the United Nations. Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. Ava www.who.int/foodsafety/publica … nt/en/probiotics.pdf [Accessed 9/4/13]

Related Stories

Cirrhotic patients experience increased daytime sleepiness from higher ammonia levels

March 1, 2012
Italian and Swiss researchers confirm that induced hyperammonaemia significantly increases daytime sleepiness in patients with cirrhosis. The findings available in the March issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell ...

Recommended for you

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.