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BMC Infect Dis. 2018 Feb 1;18(1):65. doi: 10.1186/s12879-018-2956-5.

Probiotics and infective endocarditis in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia: a clinical case and a review of the literature.

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National Institute for Infectious Diseases "Lazzaro Spallanzani" IRCCS, Rome, Italy.
National Institute for Infectious Diseases "Lazzaro Spallanzani" IRCCS, Rome, Italy.



In the last decades, probiotics have been widely used as food supplements because of their putative beneficial health effects. They are generally considered safe but rare reports of serious infections caused by bacteria included in the definition of probiotics raise concerns on their potential pathogenic role in patients with particular predisposing factors. Patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) are exposed to infections because of telangiectasias and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). We describe what is, to our knowledge, the first case of infective endocarditis (IE) caused by Lactobacillus rhamnosus in a patient with HHT. A systematic review of the relevant medical literature is presented.


A patient with HHT and an aortic bioprosthesis was admitted because of prolonged fever not responding to antibiotics. The patient had a history of repeated serious infections with hospitalizations and prolonged use of antibiotics, and used to assume large amounts of different commercial products containing probiotics. Weeks before the onset of symptoms the patient had been treated with nasal packings and with surgical closure of a nasal bleeding site because of recurrent epistaxis. A diagnosis of IE of the aortic bioprosthesis was made. All blood coltures were positive for L. rhamnosus. The patients responded to a cycle of 6 weeks of amoxicillin/clavulanate plus gentamicin. A systematic review of IE linked to consumption of probiotics, and of infective endocarditis in patients with HHT was conducted. 10 cases of IE linked to probiotics consumption and 6 cases of IE in patients with HHT were found.


Consumption of probiotics can pose a risk of serious infections in patients with particular predisposing factors. Patients with HHT can be considered at risk because of their predisposition to infections. Prophylaxis with antibiotics before nasal packings in patients with HHT can be considered.


Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia; Infective endocarditis; Lactobacillus rhamnosus; Probiotics

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