A randomized trial evaluating virus-specific effects of a combination probiotic in children with acute gastroenteritis

Nat Commun. 2020 May 21;11(1):2533. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16308-3.


Gastroenteritis accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths in children younger than 5 years annually. Although probiotics have been touted as having the potential to expedite diarrhea resolution, recent clinical trials question their effectiveness. A potential explanation is a shift in pathogens following the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine. Here, we report the results of a multi-center, double-blind trial of 816 children with acute gastroenteritis who completed follow-up and provided multiple stool specimens. Participants were randomized to receive a probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus helveticus or placebo. We report no virus-specific beneficial effects attributable to the probiotic, either in reducing clinical symptoms or viral nucleic acid clearance from stool specimens collected up to 28 days following enrollment. We provide pathophysiological and microbiologic evidence to support the clinical findings and conclude that our data do not support routine probiotic administration to children with acute gastroenteritis, regardless of the infecting virus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / therapy
  • Diarrhea / virology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / virology
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / therapy*
  • Gastroenteritis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Male
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / isolation & purification