Effect of probiotics on constipation, fecal azoreductase activity and fecal mucin content in the elderly

Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(3-4):159-62. doi: 10.1159/000063075.


Background: Constipation is a common problem in elderly subjects, probiotics have been suggested to improve intestinal motility and reduce fecal enzyme activity.

Methods: Elderly subjects (n = 28) were enrolled in an open parallel study. The subjects were divided into 3 groups: 1 control group receiving juice; 1 group receiving juice supplemented with Lactobacillus reuteri, and 1 group receiving juice supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. During the first 3 weeks all subjects consumed unsupplemented juice. In the subsequent 4 weeks, the subjects received their designated juice. During the last 3 weeks, all subjects again received unsupplemented juice. From the subjects, defecation frequency, laxative use, fecal pH, mucin content and azoreductase activity were assessed during the last week of each period.

Results: The subjects receiving the L. rhamnosus/P. freudenreichii-supplemented juice exhibited a 24% increase in defecation frequency. However, no reduction in laxative use was observed. The fecal azoreductase activity was also significantly reduced in this group. No changes in fecal pH or mucin excretion were observed.

Conclusion: Some relief from constipation may be observed with the combination of L. rhamnosus/P. freudenreichii. This probiotic combination also reduced fecal enzyme activity. The tested probiotics did not affect the mucosal barrier.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Constipation / drug therapy*
  • Feces / enzymology*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration / drug effects
  • Intestines / enzymology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus*
  • Male
  • Mucins / drug effects*
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / drug effects*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Propionibacterium*
  • Time Factors


  • Cathartics
  • Mucins
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • azoreductase