Probiotics Found to Reduce Hepatic Encephalopathy


Lactobacillus acidophilus



Probiotics are live microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that are either the same as or similar to microorganisms found naturally in the human 1) ___ and may be beneficial to health. Also referred to as “good bacteria” or “helpful bacteria,” probiotics are available to consumers in oral products such as dietary supplements and yogurts, as well as other products such as suppositories and creams. The FDA has not approved any health claims for probiotics. This article provides a general overview of probiotics, with an emphasis on oral products, and suggests sources for additional information. The NIH is funding studies that involve probiotics.


According to a European study completed in April 2013, probiotics could emerge as a treatment plan to manage hepatic encephalopathy (HE) therapy after a new study announced at the International Liver Congress™ 2013 found they significantly reduced development of the notoriously difficult-to-treat 2) ___. The study analyzed the efficacy of probiotics in preventing the development of HE in 160 cirrhotic patients over a period of approximately nine months and found significant improvements in reducing patients’ arterial ammonia levels after three months of treatment with 3) ___.


Ammonia, produced by gut bacteria, is thought to be one of the main mediators of cerebral dysfunction in HE. Probiotics work by enriching the 4) ___ flora with a non-urease producing microorganisms, which decrease ammonia production. Probiotics are live microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that produce a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts. Twice as many patients taking a 5) ___ developed overt HE (the study’s primary endpoint) compared to patients taking probiotics in the form of a capsule.


European Association for the Study of the Liver, (EASL’s) Treasurer, Prof. Mauro Bernardi welcomed the findings and said they would provide a positive impact for cirrhotic patients at risk of developing HE for whom the prognosis is typically very 6) ___. Prof. Bernardi said: “Hepatic encephalopathy is an insidious disease that’s caused by an accumulation of toxins in the blood that are normally removed by the 7) ___. Treatment normally involves the use of 8) ___ or laxatives to suppress the production of toxic substances in the intestine but there is still a great deal of room for improvement so it will be exciting to see the results of further studies to determine if clinicians have a new form of treatment on the cards.”


Hepatic encephalopathy is a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities including personality changes, intellectual impairment and reduced levels of consciousness in patients with liver 9) ___, after exclusion of other known brain disease.


ANSWERS: 1) body; 2) disease; 3) probiotics; 4) gut; 5) placebo; 6) poor; 7) liver; 8) antibiotics; 9) failure



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