Clinical Science

Research article

Co-administration of the health food supplement, bovine colostrum, reduces the acute non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced increase in intestinal permeability

Raymond J. PLAYFORD, Christopher E. MACDONALD, Denis P. CALNAN, David N. FLOYD, Theo PODAS, Wendy JOHNSON, Anthony C. WICKS, O. BASHIR, Tania MARCHBANK


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective analgesics but cause gastrointestinal injury. Present prophylactic measures are suboptimal and novel therapies are required. Bovine colostrum is a cheap, readily available source of growth factors, which reduces gastrointestinal injury in rats and mice. We therefore examined whether spray-dried, defatted colostrum could reduce the rise in gut permeability (a non-invasive marker of intestinal injury) caused by NSAIDs in volunteers and patients taking NSAIDs for clinical reasons. Healthy male volunteers (n = 7) participated in a randomized crossover trial comparing changes in gut permeability (lactulose/rhamnose ratios) before and after 5 days of 50 mg of indomethacin three times daily (tds) per oral with colostrum (125 ml, tds) or whey protein (control) co-administration. A second study examined the effect of colostral and control solutions (125 ml, tds for 7 days) on gut permeability in patients (n = 15) taking a substantial, regular dose of an NSAID for clinical reasons. For both studies, there was a 2 week washout period between treatment arms. In volunteers, indomethacin caused a 3-fold increase in gut permeability in the control arm (lactulose/rhamnose ratio 0.36±0.07 prior to indomethacin and 1.17±0.25 on day 5, P < 0.01), whereas no significant increase in permeability was seen when colostrum was co-administered. In patients taking long-term NSAID treatment, initial permeability ratios were low (0.13±0.02), despite continuing on the drug, and permeability was not influenced by co-administration of test solutions. These studies provide preliminary evidence that bovine colostrum, which is already currently available as an over-the-counter preparation, may provide a novel approach to the prevention of NSAID-induced gastrointestinal damage in humans.

  • gastrointestinal tract
  • intestinal injury
  • repair
  • nutrition