Oral probiotic and prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in intensive care unit patients
Vol12No3 Oral probiotic and prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in intensive care unit patients
Christiane Forestier 2
Dominique Guelon 1
Valrie Cluytens 1
Thierry Gillart 1
Jacques Sirot 0
Christophe De Champs 3
Corresponding author: Christiane Forestier
0 Universite de Clermont 1 UFR Medecine CHU Clermont-Ferrand, Hopital Gabriel Montpied Laboratoire de Bacteriologie , 63000 Clermont-Ferrand France
1 CHU Clermont-Ferrand, Hopital Gabriel Montpied, Service de Reanimation medico-chirurgicale 63000 Clermont-Ferrand , France
2 Universite de Clermont 1 UFR Pharmacie Laboratoire de Bacteriologie , 28 place Henri Dunant 63000 Clermont-Ferrand France
3 Laboratoire de Bacteriologie-Virologie-Hygiene CHU Robert Debre de Reims and UFR Medecine Universite Reims Champagne-Ardenne , 51092 REIMS France
Introduction Preventing carriage of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms from the aerodigestive tract is an infection control strategy used to reduce the occurrence of ventilatorassociated pneumonia in intensive care units. However, antibiotic use in selective decontamination protocols is controversial. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of oral administration of a probiotic, namely Lactobacillus, on gastric and respiratory tract colonization/infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. Our hypothesis was that an indigenous flora should exhibit a protective effect against secondary colonization. Methods We conducted a prospective, randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled pilot study between March 2003 and October 2004 in a 17-bed intensive care unit of a teaching hospital in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Consecutive patients with a unit stay of longer than 48 hours were included, 106 in the placebo group and 102 in the probiotic group. Through a nasogastric feeding tube, patients received either 109 colonyforming units unity forming colony of Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus or placebo twice daily, from the third day after admission to discharge. Digestive tract carriage of P. aeruginosa was monitored by cultures of gastric aspirates at admission, once a week thereafter and on discharge. In addition, bacteriological analyses of respiratory tract specimens were conducted to determine patient infectious status. Results The occurrence of P. aeruginosa respiratory colonization and/or infection was significantly delayed in the probiotic group, with a difference in median delay to acquisition of 11 days versus 50 days (P = 0.01), and a nonacquisition expectancy mean of 69 days versus 77 days (P = 0.01). The occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia due to P. aeruginosa in the patients receiving the probiotic was less frequent, although not significantly reduced, in patients in the probiotic group (2.9%) compared with those in the placebo group (7.5%). After multivariate Cox proportional hazards modelling, the absence of probiotic treatment increased the risk for P. aeruginosa colonization in respiratory tract (adjusted hazard ratio = 3.2, 95% confidence interval - 1.1 to 9.1). Conclusion In this pilot study, oral administration of a probiotic delayed respiratory tract colonization/infection by P. aeruginosa. Trial registration The trial registration number for this study is NCT00604110.
Hospital-acquired infections are recognized as an important
determinant of outcome in patients who require intensive care
unit (ICU) admission. The source of respiratory tract
colonization can be exogenous, for example from the hands of
health care workers or the patient's skin, but it can also be
endogenous, such as from the intestine, the oropharynx and
the gastric compartment, followed by retrograde
contaminaCFU = colony-forming unit; ICU = intensive care unit; Lcr35 = Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus strain 35; SAPS = Simplified Acute Physiology Score;
SDD = selective decontamination of the digestive tract; VAP = ventilator-assisted pneumonia. CI: confidence interval
tion [1-4]. Bacterial proliferation in the stomach is potentially
enhanced by enteral nutrition in combination with
administration of anti-ulcer prophylaxis drugs, which jeopardize the
physiological barrier of the gastric compartment by buffering the
gastric content and thereby facilitate bacterial proliferation.
Although the relative impact of gastric colonization on the
occurrence of both early and late-onset ventilator-assisted
pneumonia (VAP) is controversial [4-9], selective
decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) has been used by some
authors as an infection prophylaxis strategy [10-12]. SDD is a
four-component strategy and typically includes enteral
nonabsorbed antimicrobial drugs applied to throat and gut
throughout the ICU stay to control aerobic Gram-negative bacilli,
yeasts and Staphylococcus aureus; a parenteral antibiotic
given immediately on admission to prevent primary
endogenous early infections; together with a high standard of
hygiene to control transmission of pathogens and surveillance
samples of throat and rectum to monitor the efficacy of
treatment . This approach aims to eradicate colonization of
potentially pathogenic aerobic micro-organisms from the
oropharynx, stomach and gut, while leaving the indigenous
anaerobic flora largely undisturbed. Several recent
meta-analyses [14-16] have shown that SDD significantly reduces
infections in ICU patients, but the selective pressure exerted by
antibiotic can lead to a dramatic adverse effect, namely
overgrowth of members of the indigenous microflora or of ingested
pathogens resistant to the agents administered [17-20].
Some studies have highlighted the controversy in this area
[21,22], new attempts to inhibit intestinal or gastric
colonization by pathogens should be assessed, and the World Health
Organization has advocated the use of microbial interfering
nonpathogens (probiotics) to restrain pathogens by impairing
the colonization of mucosal surfaces .
Probiotics are defined as nonpathogenic bacteria that are
allochthonous to the bacterial community of the digestive tract.
Most bacterial probiotics are strains of the lactic acid bacteria
Lactobacillus. By creating an indigenous microflora with
bacteria that are well adapted to acid environments and known to
prevent the growth of non-acid-tolerant bacteria, the barrier
function could be reinforced and would help to prevent
nosocomial infections associated with gut contamination. To test
this hypothesis, we conducted a prospective double-blind
randomized study in ICU patients to assess the impact of enteral
administration of Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus strain 35
(Lcr35), a well documented probiotic strain that is
manufactured as a pharmaceutical product [24,25], on gastric and
respiratory tract colonization/infection by Pseudomonas
aeruginosa. The latter micro-organism is the most commonly
isolated antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria in VAP,
and it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality
Materials and methods
Patients and setting
Patients aged 18 years or older with a stay longer than 48
hours and a nasogastric feeding tube were eligible for
inclusion in the study. Patients with any of the following were
excluded: age under 18 years, immunosuppression, absolute
neutrophile count under 500/mm3, gastrointestinal bleeding,
contraindication to enteral feeding, and isolation of P.
aeruginosa from gastric aspirates or respiratory tract specimens
during the first 4 days after admission. The study was conducted
in one 17-bed ICU in the teaching hospital of
Clermont-Ferrand, France between March 2003 and October 2004. The
study complied with the Helsinki Declaration and received
ethical approval from the Comit Consultatif de Protection des
Personnes dans la Recherche Biomdicale d'Auvergne
(CCPRB, AU 479). Before inclusion in the study, patients or
their closest relative provided written informed consent.
Patients were administered L. casei rhamnosus (109
colonyforming units; the available pharmaceutical form no
E01-A02S06) or placebo (growth medium without bacteria) twice daily
through a double-lumen nasogastric suction tube
(Maxtercatheters, Marseille, France) or orally, after removal of the tube,
from the third day after admission to the ICU until discharge or
The primary objective of the study was to determine whether
probiotic administration delayed P. aeruginosa colonization in
the gastric and respiratory tracts. An increase in the number of
P. aeruginosa organisms was observed in the ICU during the
year when the trial was designed. Most studies report that P.
aeruginosa, and especially multiresistant P. aeruginosa, are
generally isolated after a long stay in hospital that includes a
period of ventilatory assistance of longer than 7 days
[3,20,27,29-31]. Hence, delaying P. aeruginosa colonization
would prevent P. aeruginosa infection.
The secondary objectives were to determine whether
probiotic administration delayed respiratory tract infection or
colonization due to P. aeruginosa, and to evaluate the ability of L.
casei rhamnosus to persist in the stomach.
The primary outcome was the time of first P. aeruginosa
acquisition. The secondary outcomes were the times of P.
aeruginosa respiratory tract infection or colonization and P.
aeruginosa gastric colonization, and the number of patients
with persistent gastric colonization with L. casei rhamnosus.
The number of patients required to achieve sufficient power for
statistical analysis in this study was determined, assuming that
the mean time to P. aeruginosa acquisition would be 15 days
and considering that a 7-day increase in this time would be
beneficial in terms of prevention, given the median length of
stay. On the basis of this hypothesis, in order to compare the
two groups with the log-rank test, for a significance level =
0.05 and a power 1 = 0.90, 11 patients with P. aeruginosa
would have been required in each group. Our ICU records
from previous years indicated that about 8/100 patients
acquired a P. aeruginosa strain. Hence 150 patients were
required in each group, and so we set a target of 200 patients
for each group.
Equal randomization to one of the two treatment arms was
done using a computer-generated random allocation
schedule. Envelopes numbered 1 to 400 contained the letter 'A' or
Placebo and probiotics were manufactured by Lyocentre
(Aurillac, France) and labelled 'A' or 'B'. Equal randomization
to one of the two treatment was done by a
computer-generated random allocation of envelopes numbered 1 to 400 and
containing the letter 'A' or 'B'.
On the third day of hospitalization, when a patient met the
inclusion criteria, the nurse opened the envelope following the
numerical order and started the indicated treatment. The list of
patients, their number of enrollment and their group were given
to the bacteriology laboratory for statistical analysis at the end
of the study.
Evaluation criteria were the rates of gastric P. aeruginosa
colonization and respiratory tract infection or colonization. For
statistical analysis, we used the SPSS 11.0 program (SPSS,
Paris, France). 2 or two-tailed Fisher exact test were used to
compare qualitative variables and Student's t-test or
MannWhitney test for quantitative variables. The geometric means
of Lactobacillus concentrations in gastric aspirates were
calculated for each patient. The results were then expressed as
the medians of the means obtained for the all patients who
were positive for Lcr35 in gastric aspirates. Statistical
significance was established at P < 0.05. The mean nonacquisition
expectancy (length of stay without P. aeruginosa acquisition)
was calculated, and P. aeruginosa noncolonized patient rates
were estimated and the two groups compared with regard to
survival curves from grouped data using the Kaplan Meier
method and the log-rank test. We looked for independent risk
factors of P. aeruginosa acquisition by means of a step-wise
Cox proportional hazards model. This model assessed the
effect of each predictor on the hazard rate of occurrence over
time, after adjustment for other factors and after allowing for
censoring because of discharge, death and loss to follow up.
We used graphical methods to check the proportional hazards
assumption. Continuous variables that did not satisfied the
linearity assumption were dichotomized. Variables for which P
was 0.1 or less in the simple Cox regression analysis were
entered into the multivariable analysis. The strength of the
association between prognostic variables, and the outcome of
interest was expressed as a hazard ratio and corresponding
95% confidence interval (CI) calculated [32,33].
Definition and microbiological techniques
The following clinical data were recorded: age, sex, the
Simplified Acute Physiologic Score (SAPS II) , underlying
diseases and previous antibiotic treatments. Throughout the
course of the study, administration of antibiotics and
bacteriological data were recorded. VAP was defined according
mostly to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
National Healthcare Safety Network criteria . These
criteria require there to be at least one positive sample (protected
specimen brush or plugged telescoping catheter for
bronchoalveolar minilavage [>103 colony-forming units (CFUs)/ml] or
endotracheal aspirate with [>105 CFUs/ml and >25
leucocytes/high-power field]) ; also required is the presence of
one or several new abnormal radiographical and progressive
parenchymatous infiltrates and one of the following signs:
purulent sputum production, fever (temperature > 38.5C),
pathogenic bacteria in blood culture without other infection
source, and bronchoalveolar minilavage with more than 5%
cells with intracellular bacteria. The bronchoalveolar
minilavage was performed by instilling 20 ml sterile physiological
saline solution through a mini-PBAL catheter (Combicath;
Plastimed Lab; Saint Leu La Fort, France) .
The presence of P. aeruginosa was detected in gastric
aspirates collected at admission, once a week as long as the
gastric tube was present, and at discharge. In patients receiving
enteral nutrition, gastric aspirates were taken before feeding
bootle change (12 hours after probiotic administration). When
no gastric residue was obtained, 10 ml physiological saline
was injected into the tube and aspirated. Gastric aspirates
were plated onto Drigalski with and without incorporated
ceftazidime (4 mg/l) and were tenfold serial diluted before
inoculation of MRS agar (Oxod, Basingstoke, England) for
numbering L. casei rhamnosus CFUs. Bacterial isolates were
identified with ID32GN API System (BioMrieux, Marcy
l'Etoile, France). Findings of analyses of specimens taken for
microbiological diagnosis because of patient infectious status
(routinely performed by the hospital laboratory) are included in
A total of 807 patients were admitted in the unit during the
period of the survey; 571 were not randomized: 242 because
they did not meet inclusion criteria (219 stayed < 48 hours),
299 because patient consent was not obtained, and 30
because the patients were included in another protocol. After
randomization, 28 were excluded because of occurrence of
exclusion criteria or because the patients no longer wished to
participate (see patient flowchart in Figure 1), and therefore
208 patients were included. Of the excluded patients, 380
had a length of stay of longer than 48 hours. There was no
difference in underlying medical disease between the 208
included patients and the 599 excluded ones. The age of the
208 included patients did not differ from that of the 380
excluded ones who stayed for longer than 48 hours (mean [
standard deviation] age: 57 16 years versus 54 19 years),
but their length of stay was longer (mean 21 19 days versus
13 18 days; P < 0.000001) and their severity of illness or
injury was greater (SAPS II score: 44 17 versus 37 18; P
< 0.0001). However, the reasons for their admission were
similar, except for digestive tract pathologies because of digestive
haemorrhages (which were exclusion criteria) and cancers (7/
208 versus 35/380; P = 0.01).
Among the 208 included patients included, 102 received the
probiotic strain (probiotic group). Most of the patients were
hospitalized after surgery (29.4%), trauma (24.2%), or
because of respiratory distress (11.4%). Except for sex
(male:female ratio: 3.2 versus 1.8; P = 0.05), there were no
significant differences between placebo and probiotic groups
with respect to patient characteristics (age, severity of illness,
length of stay, or median durations of gastric tube, catheter
use, tracheal intubation or mechanical ventilation [including
both invasive and noninvasive methods]; Table 1).
Omeprazole (20 mg/day) was administered as standard stress ulcer
prophylaxis to 90 (84.9%) and 93 (91.2%) patients in the
placebo and probiotic groups, respectively. There was no main
difference between the antibiotics administered before and
during the study (Table 1) except for fluconazole (administered
to 26 patients in the placebo group and to 45 patients in the
probiotic group; P = 0.006) and, before isolation of P.
aeruginosa, imipenem (7 versus 16 patients; P = 0.04) and
ciprofloxacin (28 versus 40; P = 0.05). L. casei rhamnosus
was detected in gastric aspirate from 52 patients in the
probiotic group. The median length of stay before detection was 13
Placebo group (n = 106)
Probiotic group (n = 102)
Characteristics of patients enrolled in the study
Age (years; median [range])
SAPS II score (mean SD)
Stay (days; median [range])
Gastric tube (days; median [range])
Urinary tract catheter (days; median [range])
Tracheal intubation (nb/days; median [range])
Ventilatory assistance (nb/days; median [range])
Vascular catheter (nb/days; median [range])
days (95% CI 9 days to 17 days). In these patients, L. casei
rhamnosus was detected for (mean standard deviation)
49.6% 24.9% of the length of stay. The median bacteria
concentration was 103/ml (range 102/ml to 106/ml). No
patient contracted Lactobacillus associated infection during
Six and three patients of the placebo and probiotic group,
respectively, acquired gastric P. aeruginosa (Table 2). Only
three (2.8%) and one (1.0%) of these patients in the placebo
and probiotic groups, respectively, had acquired
ceftazidimeresistant isolates. Three patients in the probiotic group had
concomitant Lcr35 and P. aeruginosa isolates in gastric
aspirates. No statistically significant differences were observed
between the two groups in the delay to gastric acquisition of
P. aeruginosa (see Table 2).
Incidence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates among patients
Number of patients acquiring P. aeruginosa during the stay
Median time before acquisition (days [range])
NAE mean (95% CI)
% NA at day 21
% NA at day 42
Antipseudomonas drugs (n; ceftazidime and/or imipenem and/or ciprofloxacin)
aP < 0.05. bThe total number is indicated for characteristic when different from 106 and 102 for the placebo and the probiotic group, respectively.
SAPS, Simplified Acute Physiology Score; SD, standard deviation.
From the respiratory tract specimens, 13 positive samples
including five ceftazidime-resistant isolates were detected in
the placebo group and only five (all ceftazidime susceptible) in
the probiotic group. A significant difference between groups
was observed in acquisition delay for this pathogen (Figure 2),
which was not related to any difference in prior treatment with
this antibiotic (14 versus 16 patients in placebo and probiotic
groups, respectively, received ceftazidime). P. aeruginosa was
also responsible for VAP in eight patients in the placebo group
and three in the probiotic group; this difference was not
statistically significant. The median delays to P. aeruginosa VAP
acquisition were shorter for the placebo group than for the
aP < 0.05. CI, confidence interval; NA, not acquired; NAE, non acquisition expectancy.
Respiratory tract colonization/infection did not strictly occured isolated from both gastric and respiratory specimens from only
in patients positive for gastric colonization. P. aeruginosa was two patients in the placebo group and two in the probiotic
PAscetuuadroiamlroenparsesaeenrtuagtionnosoaf einstihmeartesdppirraotobraybtilriaticets of non-acquisition of
Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the respiratory tract. The numbers of
patients acquiring P. aeruginosa relative to the number of patients
under study are indicated directly at each time point.
group. Regarding the time of acquisition in these patients, the
gastric specimens were positive before the respiratory tract
samples were for all of them but one. When considering
patients having a P. aeruginosa isolate in one or both of the
two specimen types, either gastric or respiratory, 17 patients
in the placebo group and six patients in the probiotic group
were positive (P = 0.02).
During the course of the study, patients enrolled in the two
groups also acquired nonpseudomonal infections. Indeed,
VAP due to Enterobacteriaceae or Staphylococcus aureus
were observed, but the differences between the two groups
were not statistically significant (five cases in the placebo
group versus nine in the probiotic group, and 11 in the
placebo group versus 12 in the probiotic group for infections due
to Enterobacteriaceae and S. aureus, respectively). In
addition, isolation of Candida spp. from the respiratory tract did not
differ significantly (seven patients versus 13 patients). Urinary
tract, catheter-related and bloodstream infections were also
observed, but their frequencies were not statistically different
between the two groups (data not shown).
By univariate Cox regression analysis, we found that the
variables that differed between the two groups were not
associated with P. aeruginosa respiratory infection and/or
colonization. However, three confounding variables absence
of probiotic treatment, weight and amoxicillin-clavulanate
treatment (P < 0.10) were identified (Tables 3 and 4). Because
of the low number of patients with P. aeruginosa
infection/colonization, they were included by pair in the multivariable Cox
regression model . In these analyses, weight (adjusted
hazard ratio = 1.02, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.1) and the absence
of probiotic treatment (adjusted hazard ratio = 3.2, 95% CI =
1.1 to 9.1) were found to be independent factors associated
with increased risk for P. aeruginosa respiratory infection and
or colonization (Table 5).
The goal of the present study was to determine whether oral
administration of a well known probiotic, namely Lcr35, could
prevent colonization of the stomach with the pathogen P.
aeruginosa, and therefore inhibit the development of an infectious
process. We previously demonstrated that Lcr35 can adhere
to intestinal cells and transiently colonize the intestinal tract of
humans [24,25]. In addition, in vitro assays had demonstrated
an inhibitory effect of Lcr35 on the growth of both
Gram-positive cocci and Gram-negative bacilli, including P. aeruginosa
. Because our aim was to prevent pathogen overgrowth in
the stomach, Lcr35 was administered as a powder through a
nasogastric tube, and so this study differs from previous ones,
which aimed to modify the intestinal flora . Previous in vivo
studies conducted in voluntary humans demonstrated that L.
rhamnosus colonized the intestinal tract when 108 CFUs/day
were administered ; therefore, a dosage of 109 CFUs/12
hours was chosen.
Because of difficulties in recruiting patients and despite an
increase in duration of the survey, the planned number of
patients was not obtained. The SAPS II values indicate that the
included patients were more seriously ill than were the
nonincluded ones, and were therefore more susceptible to
infection during their stay. We observed a significant difference in
delay to P. aeruginosa colonization/infection, with a threefold
increased risk for respiratory P. aeruginosa colonization and/
or infection in the patients without administered Lcr35. This
effect could be due to the fact that more patients in the
probiotic group were treated with antibiotics with activity against P.
aeruginosa, but no statistically significant relation has been
identified between P. aeruginosa infection and these
antibiotics. Although the numbers of P. aeruginosa strains isolated in
our study are too small to draw any definitive conclusions, our
findings showed that P. aeruginosa acquisition occurred later
in patients in the probiotic group than in the placebo group,
especially for respiratory tract specimens, with a delay to
acquisition (mean 50 days) longer than the mean duration of
stay of all patients from this group (14 days). In 18 patients in
whom P. aeruginosa isolated from the respiratory tract, the
inclusion of two variables in a multivariable Cox regression
model corresponded to nine events per variable, which is very
close to the lower recommended threshold ( 10), and the risk
for not detecting a confounding variable is therefore low .
The hazard ratio observed for weight was very close to 1.0
(1.02), showing that despite a significant relation the
influence of weight on P. aeruginosa respiratory tract infection
and/or colonization was weak.
Hence, oral administration of probiotics could be an alternative
for preventing colonization by this pathogen, which occurs
mostly in the long-term care critically ill patients and might be
Simple Cox analysis indicating risk factors for P. aeruginosa respiratory infection and/or colonization
P. aeruginosa (n [%])
Absence of probiotic
Hospitalization duration < 15 days
SAPS II score < 43
Traumatology and surgical pathology
Underlying respiratory tract disease
Piperacillin + tazobactam
Candida respiratory tract colonization
S. aureus respiratory tract infection/colonization
CI, confidence interval; SAPS, Simplified Acute Physiology Score.
a means of warding off contamination until ventilatory
assistance can be withdrawn. Administration of probiotics is not
expected to eradicate the pathogens as antibiotics would do,
but delaying the time to colonization while the patients are
receiving ventilatory assistance and therefore highly likely to
become colonized could be beneficial. Nevertheless, this
work has several limitations, and should be considered a pilot
study; further analyses conducted in multicentre clinical trials
are necessary to test the hypothesis, because the potential
application of probiotics has been poorly investigated .
Applications of probiotics have mostly been limited to the
treatment of intestinal disorders such as diarrhoea and
inflammatory diseases [39-43]. There is mounting evidence that
probiotics might also offer an alternative strategy to antibiotic
gastric decontamination in the future. A decrease in the rate of
postoperative infections was observed in patients receiving
oral L. plantarum together with enteral fibre nutrition .
Similar effects were obtained in studies involving patients
undergoing major abdominal surgery or suffering from acute
pancreatitis [39,40]. In contrast, Anderson and coworkers
 did not observe any measurable effect on gut barrier
funcSimple Cox analysis indicating risk factors for Pseudomonas aeruginosa respiratory and/or colonization
Patients without P. aeruginosa in
respiratory tract (n = 190)
Patients with P. aeruginosa in
respiratory tract (n = 18)
Age (years; mean SD) 56.7 16.3
Weight (kg; mean SD) 75.3 16.9
CI, confidence interval; SD, standard deviation.
tion when they administered a mixture of probiotic strains and
prebiotics (nondigestible sugars that selectively stimulate the
growth of certain colonic bacteria) in a randomized controlled
trial conducted in surgical patients, whereas Spindler-Vesel
Hazard ratio 95% CI
Multivariate Cox regression model showing independent factors associated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa respiratory infection/
No receipt of probiotic
CI, confidence interval.
Previous treatment with amoxicillin + clavulanate
and colleagues  reported fewer infections in critically ill
trauma patients receiving synbiotics in a randomized study
involving 113 patients.
Although probiotics have been widely used in food processing
for many years and overall have an excellent safety record ,
one important area of concern with their use is the risk for
sepsis. Several reports have directly linked cases of Lactobacillus
sepsis in adults to the ingestion of probiotic supplements, but
the sources of infection were not conclusively proven . In
our study, which did not include immunocompromised or
debilitated patients, no case of Lactobacillus-related sepsis
was observed. Lcr35 did not colonize the stomach of all
patients in the probiotic group, because it was detected in the
stomach of only 51% of those tested. Individual unknown
factors such as composition of the endogeneous flora may
explain why some patients were not colonized, because no
statistical link was observed between Lcr35 colonization and
It remains to be determined whether the effect observed in our
study is species specific or would affect other pathogens
whose multiplication can occur in the stomach. Regarding the
rate of infections due to Enterobacteriaceae in the enrolled
patients during the time of the present study, no major
difference was observed (data not shown). This would indicate that
the interactions between probiotic and pathogen are strain
related; therefore, extended studies including other probiotics
Our findings suggest that the oral administration of a probiotic
to prevent infectious complications must be evaluated.
Generalization of these study findings may not yet be justified,
because this study was conducted using only one probiotic
strain and in a single medical-surgical ICU including a mixed
population of medical, surgical, and trauma patients. However,
the place of probiotics in the prevention of infectious
complications in surgical or critically ill patients warrants further
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Adjusted hazards ratio
Preventative carriage of potentially pathogenic
microorganisms from the aerodigestive tract is an infection
control strategy to reduce the occurrence of
The barrier provided by probiotics (nonpathogens)
could restrain pathogens by impairing the colonization
of mucosal surfaces.
Our observational study suggests that oral
administration of the probiotic Lcr35 delayed respiratory tract
colonization/infection by P. aeruginosa, but had no
beneficial effect on the occurrence of P. aeruginosa
CF, DG and CD participated in designing the study. CF, DG,
VC and JS participated in collecting and entering data. CD
performed the statistical analysis. All authors were responsible
for critical analysis and interpretation of the data. All authors
read and approved the final manuscript.
We thank Stphane Julien for excellent technical assistance and all the
medical staff of the RMC ward for their help during this study. Funding
for the project was partially provided by the pharmaceutical company
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