A small clinical trial suggests that treating traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) with probiotics may reduce infection. The trial was conducted at the North Sichuan Medical College and Hospital in China. Participants included 52 patients who had suffered TBIs and were receiving treatment in the ICU. The patients reportedly either received conventional treatment or had their nutrition supplemented with probiotics.

Researchers report that no differences were observed between the groups of patients at the trial’s start. Throughout the trial, researchers say study participants exhibited lower levels of cytokines (IL-12) and interferon gamma (IFNy) than their uninjured, healthy counterparts in the control group. By day 15, patients treated with probiotics exhibited significantly higher levels of IL-12 and IFNy than the controls. Researchers add that these patients also exhibited a decrease in the Th2-associated factors IL-4 and IL-10. 

Jing-Ci Zhu, BSc, RN, Third Military Medical University School of Nursing in China, led the study. Zhu reiterates the study’s findings, explaining that, “Probiotic treatment appeared to swing the Th1/Th2 balance back towards normality, and, in our study, had beneficial effects. Possibly due to the small size of our study there was no significant difference in the number of infections between the groups,” which numbered 9 for the probiotic group and 16 for the controls, Zhu says. 

Yet, Zhu reports that after 7 days, probiotic therapy decreased the number of infections. The therapy also lowered the number of different antibiotics needed to treat infections and cut the length of time patients were required to stay in ICU.

Source: North Sichuan Medical College and Hospital