Human rotavirus (RV) infection is a leading cause of dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Since therapeutic approaches to RV gastroenteritis are limited to alleviation of dehydration with oral rehydration solutions, more direct approaches to palliate symptoms of RV gastroenteritis are required. Treatments with probiotics have been increasingly recognized as alternative safe and low cost treatments for moderate infectious diarrhea. In this study, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 (BBG9-1), which has been used as an intestinal drug for several decades, was shown to have a remarkable protective effect against RV gastroenteritis in a suckling mice model. As well as prophylactic oral administration of BBG9-1 from 2 days before RV infection, therapeutic oral administration of BBG9-1 from 1 day after RV infection significantly alleviated RV-induced diarrhea. Therapeutic administration of BBG9-1 reduced various types of damage in the small intestine, such as epithelial vacuolization and villous shortening, and significantly diminished the infectious RV titer in mixtures of cecal contents and feces. It was also shown that therapeutic administration of BBG9-1 significantly increased the number of acidic mucin-positive goblet cells and the gene expression of mucosal protective factors including MUC2, MUC3, MUC4, TGFβ1 and TFF3 in the small intestine. This led to alleviation of low gut permeability shown as decreased gene expression levels of occludin, claudin-1 and villin-1 after RV infection. Furthermore, in the small intestine, therapeutic administration of BBG9-1 significantly palliated the decreased gene expression of SGLT-1, which plays an important role in water absorption. In the large intestine, administered BBG9-1 was shown to replicate to assimilate undigested nutrients, resulting in normalization of the abnormally high osmotic pressure. These results suggested that water malabsorption caused by RV infection was alleviated in mice administered BBG9-1. Thus, the present study showed that oral administration of BBG9-1 palliated diarrhea partly through protection against RV-induced lesions by inducing mucosal protective factors. Oral administration of BBG9-1 is thought to be an efficient method for management of an RV epidemic for both prophylactic and therapeutic purposes.
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