Immune response and intestinal permeability in children with acute gastroenteritis treated with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Apr;58(8):1107-15. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu065. Epub 2014 Feb 5.


Background: Probiotics have a possible role in the treatment of pediatric acute gastroenteritis. We report the effect of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) on intestinal function, immune response, and clinical outcomes in Indian children with cryptosporidial or rotavirus diarrhea.

Methods: Children with gastroenteritis aged 6 months to 5 years, testing positive for either rotavirus or Cryptosporidium species in stool (coinfections were excluded), were randomized to LGG (ATCC 53103) or placebo, once daily for 4 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical details were obtained. Sera were tested for immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies to Cryptosporidium and rotavirus, and the lactulose to mannitol ratio for intestinal permeability was determined at baseline and at the end of follow-up.

Results: Of the 124 children enrolled, 82 and 42 had rotavirus and cryptosporidial diarrhea, respectively. Median diarrheal duration was 4 days; one-third of the children had severe diarrhea. Baseline and clinical parameters were comparable between children receiving LGG and placebo. At the end of follow-up, fewer children with rotavirus diarrhea on LGG had repeated diarrheal episodes (25% vs 46%; P = .048) and impaired intestinal function (48% vs 72%; P = .027). Significant increase in IgG levels postintervention (456 vs 2215 EU; P = .003) was observed in children with rotavirus diarrhea receiving LGG. Among children with cryptosporidial diarrhea, those receiving LGG showed significant improvement in intestinal permeability.

Conclusions: LGG has a positive immunomodulatory effect and may be useful in decreasing repeated episodes of rotavirus diarrhea. Improvement in intestinal function in children with rotavirus and cryptosporidial gastroenteritis emphasizes the role of probiotics in treating intestinal impairment after infection.

Clinical trials registration: CTRI/2010/091/000339.

Keywords: LGG; gastroenteritis; immune response; intestinal function; probiotics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryptosporidiosis / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • India
  • Infant
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus / growth & development*
  • Lactulose / analysis
  • Male
  • Mannitol / analysis
  • Permeability*
  • Placebos / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Rotavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Placebos
  • Mannitol
  • Lactulose