Probiotics in clostridium difficile Infection

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Nov;45 Suppl(Suppl):S154-8. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31822ec787.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is one of the most prevalent nosocomial infections. A dramatic increase in the incidence and severity of CDI has been noted in the past decade. Current recommendations suggest metronidazole as first-line therapy in mild to moderately severe CDI and oral vancomycin in individuals with severe CDI, or when metronidazole fails or is contradicted. Alterations of the colonic microbiota, usually caused by antimicrobial therapy, seem to play a critical role in CDI pathogenesis. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit to the host, and have been used in CDI. Although a wide variety of probiotics have been studied, the exact role of probiotics in preventing and treating CDI is not clear. In this study, we reviewed the current literature and recommendations on the most commonly studied protiotic agents (Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus species, and probiotic mixtures) used to prevent or treat CDI. Lactobacillus-containing probiotic mixtures and S. boulardii may be effective in the prevention of CDI in high-risk antibiotic recipients but this finding is based on small, individual studies, and further, larger, well-controlled studies are needed to confirm preliminary positive findings and to better delineate the efficacy of probiotics in CDI prevention or treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Clostridioides difficile / drug effects*
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control*
  • Clostridium Infections / therapy*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / therapy
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / prevention & control
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / therapy
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus* / growth & development
  • Probiotics / pharmacology
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Saccharomyces* / growth & development
  • Treatment Outcome