Primary prevention of Clostridium difficile infections with a specific probiotic combining Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, and L. rhamnosus strains: assessing the evidence

J Hosp Infect. 2018 Aug;99(4):443-452. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.04.017. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has become the leading healthcare-associated infection and cause of outbreaks around the world. Although various innovative treatments have been developed, preventive strategies using multi-faceted infection control programmes have not been successful in reducing CDI rates. The major risk factor for CDI is the disruption of the normally protective gastrointestinal microbiota, typically by antibiotic use. Supplementation with specific probiotics has been effective in preventing various negative outcomes, including antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and CDI. However, a consensus of which probiotic strains might prevent CDI has not been reached and meta-analyses report high degrees of heterogeneity when studies of different probiotic products are pooled together. We searched the literature for probiotics with sufficient evidence to assess clinical efficacy for the prevention of CDI and focused on one specific probiotic formulation comprised of three lactobacilli strains (Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, Lactobacillus casei LBC80R, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2, Bio-K+) for its ability to prevent CDI in healthcare settings. A literature search on this probiotic formulation was conducted using electronic databases (PubMed, Google Scholar), abstracts from infectious disease and infection control meetings, and communications from the probiotic company. Supporting evidence was found for its mechanisms of action against CDI and that it has an excellent safety and tolerability profile. Evidence from randomized controlled trials and facility-level interventions that administer Bio-K+ show reduced incidence rates of CDI. This probiotic formulation may have a role in primary prevention of healthcare-associated CDI when administered to patients who receive antibiotics.

Keywords: Clostridium difficile; Lactobacilli probiotics; Prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus casei / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus / growth & development*
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome