Author(s): Zuccotti GV, Dilillo D, Meneghin F, Raimondi C, Agostoni C
The observation that intestinal bacterial microflora might be able to influence immune system surveillance through changed nutritional habits has raised awareness of the role of probiotics. These are live microorganisms that are able to reach the gastrointestinal tract and alter its microfloral composition, producing beneficial health effects when consumed in adequate amounts. Recent clinical trials have evaluated the clinical effectiveness of probiotics in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of acute and chronic gastrointestinal diseases, and also non-gastrointestinal diseases, such as atopy, respiratory infections, vaginitis and hypercholesterolaemia. Probiotic supplements are generally regarded as safe because the microorganisms they contain are identical to those found in human gastrointestinal and vaginal microflora. Guidelines on the use of probiotics in the clinical setting require periodical updates for the latest data to be included in clinical applications. The purpose of this clinical report is to review current evidence on the use of probiotics in a variety of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal conditions.