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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 83-86
Original Article

Failure to Improve Parameters of Lactose Maldigestion using the Multiprobiotic Product VSL3 in Lactose Maldigesters: A Pilot Study

Rose Yesovitch, Albert Cohen, and Andrew Szilagyi

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, McGill University School of Medicine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Received 13 October 2003; Accepted 17 December 2003

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lactose maldigestion is a common genetic trait in up to 70% of the world's population. In these subjects, the ingestion of lactose may lead to prebiotic effects which can be confirmed by measurement of breath hydrogen. After a period of continuous lactose ingestion, colonic bacterial adaptation is measurable as improved parameters of lactose digestion. There may be inherent benefits in this process of adaptation which may protect against some diseases. We attempt to link therapeutically beneficial probiotics (VSL3, Seaford Pharmaceuticals Inc, Ontario) with improvement in parameters of lactose maldigestion. Two groups of five subjects with maldigestion were fed one or four packets of VSL3 (one packet containing 450x109 live bacteria) before testing and then 17 days later. A 50 g lactose challenge was carried out before and after feeding. While there was a trend toward increasing rather than reducing of summed breath hydrogen, no statistically significant changes were observed between results from before testing and those from testing 17 days later. The authors conclude that direct consumption of the probiotic VSL3 may not improve parameters of lactose maldigestion without metabolic activation. In its present format, therefore, the test for colonic adaptation cannot be used to demonstrate direct bacterial embedding with VSL3.