Background & Aims: The aim of this study was to compare the response of symptoms and cytokine ratios in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with ingestion of probiotic preparations containing a lactobacillus or bifidobacterium strain. Methods: Seventy-seven subjects with IBS were randomized to receive either Lactobacillus salivarius UCC4331 or Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, each in a dose of 1 × 1010 live bacterial cells in a malted milk drink, or the malted milk drink alone as placebo for 8 weeks. The cardinal symptoms of IBS were recorded on a daily basis and assessed each week. Quality of life assessment, stool microbiologic studies, and blood sampling for estimation of peripheral blood mononuclear cell release of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-12 were performed at the beginning and at the end of the treatment phase. Results: For all symptoms, with the exception of bowel movement frequency and consistency, those randomized to B infantis 35624 experienced a greater reduction in symptom scores; composite and individual scores for abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/distention, and bowel movement difficulty were significantly lower than for placebo for those randomized to B infantis 35624 for most weeks of the treatment phase. At baseline, patients with IBS demonstrated an abnormal IL-10/IL-12 ratio, indicative of a proinflammatory, Th-1 state. This ratio was normalized by B infantis 35624 feeding alone. Conclusions: B infantis 35624 alleviates symptoms in IBS; this symptomatic response was associated with normalization of the ratio of an anti-inflammatory to a proinflammatory cytokine, suggesting an immune-modulating role for this organism, in this disorder.
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