European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 93–103 | Cite as

Effects of probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, inflammation and exercise performance in the heat

  • Cecilia M. ShingEmail author
  • Jonathan M. Peake
  • Chin Leong Lim
  • David Briskey
  • Neil P. Walsh
  • Matthew B. Fortes
  • Kiran D. K. Ahuja
  • Luis Vitetta
Original Article



This study aimed to investigate the effects of multi-strain probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, systemic markers of inflammation and running performance when exercising in the heat.


Ten male runners were randomized to 4 weeks of daily supplementation with a probiotics capsule (45 billion CFU of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains) or placebo, separated by a washout period (double-blind, cross-over trial). After each treatment, the runners exercised to fatigue at 80 % of their ventilatory threshold at 35 °C and 40 % humidity. To assess gastrointestinal permeability, runners ingested lactulose and rhamnose before exercise and post-exercise urine was collected to measure sugar concentrations. Venous blood samples were collected before, immediately after and 1 h after exercise, and core temperature was monitored during exercise.


Probiotics supplementation significantly increased run time to fatigue (min:s 37:44 ± 2:42 versus 33:00 ± 2:27; P = 0.03, d = 0.54). Average core temperature during exercise was similar between trials (probiotic 38.1 ± 0.2 °C, placebo 38.1 ± 0.1 °C; P = 0.77, d = 0.13). Serum lipopolysaccharide concentration increased post-exercise (P < 0.001), while there was a moderate to large reduction in pre-exercise (d = 0.70) and post-exercise (d = 1.24) concentration following probiotics supplementation. Plasma concentrations of IL-6, IL-10 and IL-1ra increased after exercise (P < 0.01), but there was no significant difference between trials (P > 0.05). There was a small to moderate reduction (d = 0.35) in urine lactulose:rhamnose and a small reduction (d = 0.25) in symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort following probiotics supplementation (both P = 0.25).


Four weeks of supplementation with a multi-strain probiotic increased running time to fatigue in the heat. Further studies are required to elucidate the exact mechanisms for this performance benefit.


Heat stress Gastrointestinal integrity Gastrointestinal tract Lipopolysaccharide Running Probiotics Inflammation 



We would like to thank Dr Michael Leveritt for his assistance with dietary prescription for the runners, and the runners for their commitment to the study. The authors have no competing interests to declare. A portion of this work was funded by the BioCeuticals™, Sydney, Australia and the University of Tasmania. The authors do not have any professional relationships with the company. Luis Vitetta has received National Institute of Complementary Medicine and National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia competitive funding and Industry support for research into probiotics.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia M. Shing
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan M. Peake
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chin Leong Lim
    • 4
    • 7
  • David Briskey
    • 2
    • 5
  • Neil P. Walsh
    • 6
  • Matthew B. Fortes
    • 6
  • Kiran D. K. Ahuja
    • 1
  • Luis Vitetta
    • 5
  1. 1.Sport Performance Optimisation Research Team, School of Human Life SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaLauncestonAustralia
  2. 2.School of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biomedical SciencesQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Singapore Sports InstituteSingaporeRepublic of Singapore
  5. 5.Centre for Integrative, School of Medicine, Clinical and Molecular MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Extremes Research GroupBangor UniversityBangorUK
  7. 7.Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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