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Probiotic treatment restores short-term fasting-induced colonic mucosal atrophy in rats

Background and aim

Short-term fasting, although a common prescription perioperatively, has been found to result in metabolic impairment and severe alterations in the morphology and function of the gut. Probiotics have been reported to stimulate epithelial proliferation in the colon and thus might promote restoration of gut mucosa after starvation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of probiotics on improving recovery of colonic mucosal atrophy (expressed by the mucosal DNA content) after short-term fasting in rats.

Materials and methods

Twenty-four male Wistar rats were fasted for 3 days and then, for the next 3 days, were fed with standard rat chow or rat chow plus probiotics (Synbiotic 2000Forte; Medifarm, Sweden), or given parenteral liquids with or without probiotics orally. Six more rats were normally fed with standard rat chow for 6 days, and served as controls. Synbiotic 2000Forte contains 1010 CFU of each of Pediococcus pentoseceus 5–33:3, Leuconostoc mesenteroides 32–77:1, L. paracasei ssp paracasei 19 and L. plantarum 2362, as well as 2.5 g inulin, oat bran, pectin and resistant starch. At the end of the 3-day refeeding period the entire colon was opened longitudinally, and the mucosa stripped out, weighed and assayed for DNA contents (μg/g tissue).


Three days' feeding with rat chow plus probiotics or parenteral liquids in combination with per oral probiotics was found to significantly (P = 0.05) increase DNA contents in relation to rat chow or parenteral liquids, respectively. However, it is of interest to mention that there is no difference between mucosal DNA contents in rats treated parenteral liquids plus per oral probiotics and rats fed rat chow without probiotics.


The results of the present study led us to conclude that probiotics enhance the recovery of gut mucosa after short-term starvation-induced atrophy in rats.

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Kotzampassi, K., Paramythiotis, D., Voudouris, A. et al. Probiotic treatment restores short-term fasting-induced colonic mucosal atrophy in rats. Crit Care 9, P361 (2005).

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  • Pectin
  • Bran
  • Inulin
  • Resistant Starch
  • Epithelial Proliferation