Lactobacillus GG and tributyrin supplementation reduce antibiotic-induced intestinal injury

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2013 Nov;37(6):763-74. doi: 10.1177/0148607113486809. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


Background: Antibiotic therapy negatively alters the gut microbiota. Lactobacillus GG (LGG) decreases antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) symptoms, but the mechanisms are unknown. Butyrate has beneficial effects on gut health. Altered intestinal gene expression occurs in the absence of gut microbiota. We hypothesized that antibiotic-induced changes in gut microbiota reduce butyrate production, varying genes involved with gut barrier integrity and water and electrolyte absorption, lending to AAD, and that simultaneous supplementation with LGG and/or tributyrin would prevent these changes.

Methods: C57BL/6 mice aged 6-8 weeks received a chow diet while divided into 8 treatment groups (± saline, ± LGG, ± tributyrin, or both). Mice received treatments orally for 7 days with ± broad-spectrum antibiotics. Water intake was recorded daily and body weight was measured. Intestine tissue samples were obtained and analyzed for expression of genes and proteins involved with water and electrolyte absorption, butyrate transport, and gut integrity via polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry.

Results: Antibiotics decreased messenger RNA (mRNA) expression (butyrate transporter and receptor, Na(+)/H(+) exchanger, Cl(-)/HCO3 (-), and a water channel) and protein expression (butyrate transporter, Na(+)/H(+) exchanger, and tight junction proteins) in the intestinal tract. LGG and/or tributyrin supplementation maintained intestinal mRNA expression to that of the control animals, and tributyrin maintained intestinal protein intensity expression to that of control animals.

Conclusion: Broad-spectrum antibiotics decrease expression of anion exchangers, butyrate transporter and receptor, and tight junction proteins in mouse intestine. Simultaneous oral supplementation with LGG and/or tributyrin minimizes these losses. Optimizing intestinal health with LGG and/or tributyrin may offer a preventative therapy for AAD.

Keywords: antibiotics; diarrhea; intestine; probiotics; tributyrin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Dysbiosis / chemically induced
  • Dysbiosis / drug therapy
  • Dysbiosis / genetics
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Intestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Lactobacillus*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tight Junction Proteins / genetics
  • Tight Junction Proteins / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology
  • Triglycerides / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Butyrates
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tight Junction Proteins
  • Triglycerides
  • tributyrin