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Background:

The enteric bacterial flora has been implicated in the pathogenesis of enterocolitis and colon cancer in C57BL/6 IL-10 knockout mice. Probiotic Lactobacilli modify the enteric flora and are thought to have a beneficial effect on enterocolitis. We conducted a controlled feeding trial in IL-10 knockout mice using the probiotic Lactobacillus salivarius ssp. salivarius UCC118.

Aim:

To determine the effect of probiotic consumption on the gastrointestinal microflora, tumour development and colitis in IL-10 knockout mice.

Methods:

Twenty IL-10 knockout mice were studied (10 consumed probiotic organisms in milk and 10 consumed unmodified milk) for 16 weeks. Faecal microbial analysis was performed weekly to enumerate excretion of the probiotic UCC118, total lactobacilli, Clostridium perfringens, bacteroides, coliforms, bifidobacteria and enterococci. At sacrifice, the small and large bowel were microbiologically and histologically assessed.

Results:

L. salivarius UCC118 was detected in faeces from all mice in the probiotic fed group, but not the control group. Faecal coliform and enterococci levels were significantly reduced in probiotic fed animals compared to the controls (P < 0.05). At sacrifice, a significant reduction in C. perfringens numbers was observed in the test mice (P < 0.05). There were no fatalities in the test group compared to two deaths from fulminant colitis in the control group. Only one test mouse developed colonic adenocarcinoma compared to five in the control group. Test animal mucosal inflammation consistently scored lower than that of the control mice.

Conclusion:

In this placebo controlled trial, modification of enteric flora in IL-10 knockout mice by probiotic lactobacilli was associated with reduced prevalence of colon cancer and mucosal inflammatory activity.