The influence of probiotic treatment on sulfasalazine metabolism in rat

Xenobiotica. 2012 Aug;42(8):791-7. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2012.660508. Epub 2012 Feb 21.


Probiotics are live microorganisms claimed to exert beneficial effects on the host. This study investigated their effect on the metabolism and pharmacokinetics of sulfasalazine (SSZ), a drug whose efficacy depends on metabolism by azoreductase (AR) in the gut microbiota to sulfapyridine (SP) and 5-acetylsalicylic acid (5-ASA). The probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus L10, Bifidobacterium lactis B94 and Streptococcus salivarius K12 possessed AR activity and a corresponding ability to metabolize SSZ. Treatment of male Wistar rats (n = 5) with oral 2 g doses of a mixture of the three probiotics (total dose 1.8 × 10⁹ cfu) every 12 h for 3 days resulted in a significant increase (p < 0.05) in AR activity in ex vivo colon contents with a corresponding increase in SSZ metabolism. Similar probiotic treatment of male Wistar rats (n = 8) followed by an oral 100 mg/kg dose of SSZ produced high plasma levels of SP, but pharmacokinetic parameters of SSZ and SP were not significantly different from control rats given SSZ. These results indicate that probiotic strains possess AR activity and can metabolize SSZ. Treatment with probiotics increases AR activity in the gut microbiota but has no effect on plasma levels of SSZ and SP following a subsequent oral dose of SSZ.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / enzymology
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / enzymology
  • Male
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Nitroreductases
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Streptococcus / enzymology
  • Sulfapyridine / administration & dosage
  • Sulfapyridine / blood
  • Sulfapyridine / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfasalazine / administration & dosage
  • Sulfasalazine / blood
  • Sulfasalazine / metabolism*
  • Sulfasalazine / pharmacokinetics


  • Sulfasalazine
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • Nitroreductases
  • azoreductase
  • Sulfapyridine