Objectives: Experimental studies have shown that luminal antigens are involved in chronic intestinal inflammatory disorders. Bifidogenic growth stimulator (BGS) is a prebiotic preparation produced by Propionibacterium freudenreichii isolated from Swiss cheese. Previously BGS was shown to act in the colon as a growth stimulator of Bifidobacteria. This study investigated the efficacy and safety of BGS in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
Methods: Twelve patients with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis received orally 4.5 g of BGS daily for 4 wk in an open-label treatment protocol while the baseline anti-inflammatory therapy was continued. The response to treatment was evaluated clinically and endoscopically. Concentrations of short-chain fatty acids and the composition of commensal bacteria, including Bifidobacteria, Enterobacteria and Bacteroides species, were studied in stool samples.
Results: Patients showed improvement in their clinical activity index scores, with a significant decrease in the score from 7.4 +/- 2.8 to 4.7 +/- 1.5 (mean +/- standard error of the mean, P < 0.01). The endoscopic index score decreased from 4.4 +/- 1.7 to 2.8 +/- 1.8 (P < 0.05) with treatment. Patients showed an increase in stool butyrate concentrations after BGS treatment (P < 0.05). There were no significant changes in stool levels of bacteria as a result of BGS treatment. No side effects related to BGS were observed.
Conclusions: Oral BGS therapy may represent a non-toxic way to treat ulcerative colitis. However, controlled studies are needed to demonstrate its efficacy in the treatment of this disorder.