Beneficial effects of a probiotic VSL#3 on parameters of liver dysfunction in chronic liver diseases

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 Jul;39(6):540-3. doi: 10.1097/01.mcg.0000165671.25272.0f.


Objectives: To evaluate whether chronic therapy with probiotics affects plasma levels of cytokines and oxidative/nitrosative stress parameters, as well as liver damage, in patients with various types of chronic liver disease.

Patients and methods: A total of 22 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and 20 alcoholic liver cirrhosis (AC) patients were enrolled in the study and compared with 36 HCV-positive patients with chronic hepatitis without (20, CH) or with (16, CC) liver cirrhosis. All patients were treated with the probiotic VSL#3. Routine liver tests, plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-6 and -10, malondialdehyde (MDA), and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), S-nitrosothiols (S-NO), were evaluated on days -30, 0, 90, and 120.

Results: Treatment with VSL#3 exerted different effects in the various groups of patients: in NAFLD and AC groups, it significantly improved plasma levels of MDA and 4-HNE, whereas cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-10) improved only in AC patients. No such effects were observed in HCV patients. Routine liver damage tests and plasma S-NO levels were improved at the end of treatment in all groups.

Conclusions: Results of the study suggest that manipulation of intestinal flora should be taken into consideration as possible adjunctive therapy in some types of chronic liver disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aldehydes / blood
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / therapy*
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • S-Nitrosothiols / blood
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Aldehydes
  • Cytokines
  • S-Nitrosothiols
  • Malondialdehyde
  • 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal