Probiotics have limited effects on anaemia in kidney failure patients: Iranian study

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Probiotics did not significantly increase haemoglobin in chronic kidney patients. ©iStock
Probiotics did not significantly increase haemoglobin in chronic kidney patients. ©iStock
Probiotic supplementation did not increase haemoglobin levels in kidney failure patients undergoing dialysis, but it did help to decrease haemoglobin fluctuations.

Chronic kidney failure patients undergoing haemodialysis often suffer from anaemia caused by chronic inflammation — as well as other factors such as chronic blood loss during haemodialysis and reduced iron absorption from the intestine — and probiotics may “establish a balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines”.

Based on this, researchers from Iran's Golestan University of Medical Sciences conducted the study to observe the impact of probiotic supplementation on haemoglobin in haemodialysis patients. It subsequently found that although probiotics raised their haemoglobin levels, this increase was statistically insignificant and as such, did not help to alleviate the patients' anaemia.

Probiotics' sustained effect

Two groups of 18 patients (20 male and 16 female) aged 47 to 60 participated in a three-month parallel clinical trial: each patient in the intervention group was administered a 500mg probiotic capsule (containing seven different probiotic strains) daily, while each patient in the control group was given a daily placebo.

Probiotic supplementation only raised haemoglobin levels very slightly, though it did reduce haemoglobin fluctuations without complications. 

At the same time, the patients’ raised CRP levels at baseline, indicative of inflammation, were not lowered in either group.

Researchers said there were “no significant differences between the two groups in either the pre‑ or post‑intervention CRP levels”​. In fact, patients in both groups saw their CRP levels rise after the study had ended.

Contradictory results

These results contradicted those of previous studies, where probiotic supplementation had been shown to decrease CRP levels in dialysis patients. The study also noted that few human studies have been conducted on the effects of probiotics on “haematological parameters, including haemoglobin, and inflammatory markers”​ in chronic renal failure patients."

The researchers concluded that "similar studies are recommended to be conducted with increased study duration and a control of other inflammatory markers...for assessing the effects of probiotics on haematologic parameters in these patients"​.

Source: Journal of Research in Medical Sciences

“The effects of probiotic supplement on hemoglobin in chronic renal failure patients under hemodialysis: A randomized clinical trial”

Authors: Zahra Shariaty, et al.

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