A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE suggests that burn and trauma patients may benefit from probiotic treatments. Probiotics are live bacteria that help balance the healthy or “good” bacteria in your gut.
Researchers at Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division discovered a higher amount of Enterobacteriaceae in patients who had severe burns—Enterobacteriaceae is a large family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli (Escherichia coli). Patients also had a lower amount of the “good” bacteria.
In healthy people, there are over 100 trillion bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract called the microbiome. Researchers examined fecal samples from four patients with severe burns that were being treated at Loyola University Medical Center’s Burn Center. Five to 17 days after the burn injuries occurred, the samples were collected. The patients’ microbial bacteria were compared with eight patients with minor burns.
In severely burned patients, an average of 31.9% of Enterobacteriaceaewere found in the gut microbiome. In comparison, patients with minor burns only had 0.5% of Enterobacteriaceae in the microbiome.
In severe burn victims, sepsis and other infectious complications cause 75% of related deaths. Researchers believe that dysbiosis may contribute to that problem. Dysbiosis is when there is an imbalance of microbial bacteria; this condition is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It is thought that the harmful bacteria may leak from the gut, and end up in the bloodstream.
Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of probiotics in reducing the risk of infectious complications, like sepsis.
The study’s senior author, Dr. Mashkoor Choudhry, concludes that the study’s findings may also apply to trauma patients, including those suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Targeting bacteria in the gut might help burn, trauma patients,” ScienceDaily web site, July 8, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150708141552.htm.
Early, Z.M., et al., “Burn Injury Alters the Intestinal Microbiome and Increases Gut Permeability and Bacterial Translocation,” PLOS ONE July 8, 2015, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129996.