Probiotics May Benefit Alcoholic Liver

Harry Hirsute

New member
Apr 12, 2006
Propecia, CA
Probiotics may offer benefits for alcoholic livers

By Stephen Daniells

4/15/2008- Supplements of friendly bacteria may restore the immune function of white blood cells in alcoholics, suggests new research from the UK.

The small study by researchers at University College London assigned patients with alcoholic cirrhosis to receive Lactobacillus casei Shirota supplements, and report that neutrophil (white blood cell) function was restored after four weeks.

"Our results provide novel data to suggest that Lactobacillus casei Shirota may restore neutrophil dysfunction in alcoholic cirrhotic patients," wrote lead author Vanessa Stadlbauer in the Journal of Hepatology.

The new study adds to the body of science by reporting that the 'friendly' bacteria may boost immune function in alcoholics. Previous studies have already reported benefits from probiotics for the immune response, but no research has ever studied their potential benefits in immune function of people with alcoholic cirrhosis, stated the researchers.

"Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis are susceptible to infections and once infected, they have increased in-hospital mortality," explained Stadlbauer and co-workers. "This may relate to a defective innate immune response in conjunction with an inappropriate inflammatory response."

Study details

The researchers recruited 20 people with alcoholic cirrhosis, 12 of whom were assigned to consume L. casei Shirota supplements three times a day for four weeks. The other eight were used as control subjects, as were a further 13 healthy people, and received no probiotics.

As expected, the neutrophil phagocyte capacity was 25 per cent lower in the people with alcoholic cirrhosis compared to the healthy controls. At the end of the study, however, this capacity was normalized in the people receiving the probiotics. No improvements were observed in the alcoholic cirrhosis controls.

"Although our study was not randomised, the data from the contemporaneous disease controls, who had similar clinical and biochemical characteristics as the study group and showed no significant changes in phagocytic function over the four-week study period, lends weight to the suggestion that the observed normalization in phagocytic capacity was likely to be due to an effect of administration of Lactobacillus casei Shirota," wrote the researchers.

The researchers suggest that the mechanism may be due to changes in the secretion in interleukin 10 (IL-10), and also by affecting the expression of the toll-like receptor (TLR4), which play a role in activating the immune response.

"Further understanding of how Lactobacillus casei Shirota achieves improved phagocytosis would provide novel insights into the dysfunction of the innate immune system associated with alcoholic cirrhosis and warrants an appropriately randomised, controlled and powered clinical trial," concluded the researchers.

The researchers note that some of the analytical costs and the probiotic Yakult were provided by Yakult UK.


New member
Apr 13, 2008
The End of A Wire (Sometimes)
The only slight concerns I have with research like iths is it might give some people who participate in bad habits, the ability to think there's a get out clause for their actions.

There was a similar thing last year, when supposed research claimed a positive link between tobacco use and Huntingdons disease. That kind of research, (if it was true and I doubt it), is just the sort of damp squib, that can get in the way of peoples need to stop such habits, and might help to encourage a "live a little you could get hit by a bus tomorrow", kind of attitude.

Hopefully this research doesn't make certain people believe, that bad habits are acceptable, when there is some kind of abstinence opt-out clause, offered to them by science :).


Standing at the Portal
Oct 16, 2007
Alcoholics are severely depleted in B vitamins. The gut produces many of the B's. If there is dysbiosis in the gut the manufacture of Bs could be significantly and dangerously reduced. With the liver degeneration of Cirrhosis and all the digestive issues it causes one can easily tie the picture together.

Supplementing with probiotics will tend to inhance B vitamin production.

B vitamins has always been an essential treatment for liver disease and especially with alcoholics. Health improvement has been noted when they receive Bs via IV and it is generally part of the program in the more cutting edge alcohol rehab facilities.

Anyway, these are just some of the random thoughts I had on the topic