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Anaerobe. 2011 Dec;17(6):463-7. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2011.07.005. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Human microbial ecology: lactobacilli, probiotics, selective decontamination.

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  • Department of Microbiology, Medical Faculty, University of Tartu, Tartu 50411, Estonia. marika.mikelsaar@ut.ee


Health care-associated infections are closely associated with different medical interventions which interrupt the balance of human microbiota. The occasional predominance of opportunistic pathogens may lead to their translocation into the lymph nodes and bloodstream, causing endogenous (primary or secondary) hospital infections. The question is raised as to if there is a possibility for prevention of the imbalance of GI microbiota during medical interventions in critically ill patients. Prophylactic selective decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) simultaneously applies three to four different antimicrobials for the suppression of enteric aerobic microbes, which are potentially pathogenic microorganisms. However, there is no convincing evidence that the indigenous beneficial intestinal microbiota are preserved, resulting in reduced mortality of high-risk patients. In this overview, we have evaluated the antimicrobial treatment guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) for intra-abdominal infections in adults and seniors according to their safety for different Lactobacillus spp. The data from our group and in the literature have shown that all tested lactobacilli strains (nearly one hundred) were insusceptible to metronidazole while different species of lactobacilli of the three fermentation groups expressed particular antibiotic susceptibility to vancomycin, cefoxitin, ciprofloxacin and some new tetracyclines. We have relied on microbial ecology data showing that the GI tracts of adults and the elderly are simultaneously colonised at least with several (four to a maximum of 12) Lactobacillus species expressing variable intrinsic insusceptibility to the aforementioned antimicrobials, according to the provided data in table. This finding offers the possibility of preserving the colonisation of the intestine with some beneficial lactobacilli during antimicrobial treatment in critically ill patients with health care-associated infections. Several probiotic Lactobacillus spp. strains are intrinsically resistant to antimicrobials and can be used during antibacterial therapy, however, their application as an additive to antimicrobial treatment in critically ill patients needs to be investigated in well-designed clinical trials.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Comment in

  • Selective decontamination and ecology. [Anaerobe. 2012]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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