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Effects of probiotics and antibiotics on the intestinal homeostasis in a computer controlled model of the large intestine

Ateequr Rehman1, Femke-Anouska Heinsen2, Marjorie E Koenen3, Koen Venema3, Henrik Knecht2, Stephan Hellmig4, Stefan Schreiber4 and Stephan J Ott45*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University Medical Center, Breisacher Str. 115b, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany

2 Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (ICMB), Christian-Albrechts-University (CAU) Kiel, Schittenhelmstr. 12, D-24105 Kiel, Germany

3 TNO, Utrechtseweg 48, P.O. Box 360, 3700 AJ Zeist, The Netherlands

4 Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel, Arnold-Heller Str. 3, Haus 6, D-24105 Kiel, Germany

5 Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), Christian-Albrechts University (CAU) Kiel and Clinic for Internal Medicine I University-Hospital, Schleswig-Holstein (UK S-H), Kiel Arnold-Heller-Str. 3, Haus 6, 24105 Kiel, Germany

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:47  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-47

Published: 27 March 2012



Antibiotic associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infection are frequent complications of broad spectrum antibiotic therapy. Probiotic bacteria are used as therapeutic and preventive agents in these disorders, but the exact functional mechanisms and the mode of action are poorly understood. The effects of clindamycin and the probiotic mixture VSL#3 (containing the 8 bacterial strains Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus) consecutively or in combination were investigated and compared to controls without therapy using a standardized human fecal microbiota in a computer-controlled in vitro model of large intestine. Microbial metabolites (short chain fatty acids, lactate, branched chain fatty acids, and ammonia) and the intestinal microbiota were analyzed.


Compared to controls and combination therapy, short chain fatty acids and lactate, but also ammonia and branched chain fatty acids, were increased under probiotic therapy. The metabolic pattern under combined therapy with antibiotics and probiotics had the most beneficial and consistent effect on intestinal metabolic profiles. The intestinal microbiota showed a decrease in several indigenous bacterial groups under antibiotic therapy, there was no significant recovery of these groups when the antibiotic therapy was followed by administration of probiotics. Simultaneous application of anti- and probiotics had a stabilizing effect on the intestinal microbiota with increased bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.


Administration of VSL#3 parallel with the clindamycin therapy had a beneficial and stabilizing effect on the intestinal metabolic homeostasis by decreasing toxic metabolites and protecting the endogenic microbiota from destruction. Probiotics could be a reasonable strategy in prevention of antibiotic associated disturbances of the intestinal homeostasis and disorders.