Efficacy and safety of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2020 Jan 2. Epub 2020 Jan 2. PMID: 31898645
Background/Aim: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic functional bowel disorder and the evidence shows most drug therapies in the treatment of IBS are weak. Recently, some studies showed probiotics may have a positive effect in IBS and they are widely used to improve the symptom of IBS, which indicate probiotics may play an important role in the treatment of IBS. However, the exact effectiveness and safety of probiotics are largely unknown. This systematic review focuses on identifying the efficacy and safety of probiotics in the treatment of IBS.
Materials and Methods: Data sources were searched up to February 2019. Databases included MEDLINE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and Embase. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing probiotics including complex or individual probiotics with placebo or no therapy were screened, extracted, and appraised by two independent reviewers. The data were pooled using a random-effects model. The methodological quality of all RCTs was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias and Jadad scale. Outcomes included symptom-relevant and patient-relevant characteristics, such as symptom relief, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, quality of life, and adverse event.
Results: This review includes 28 studies with a total of 3606 participants. Particular combinations of probiotics, or specific species and strains, showed probiotics have beneficial effect on overall IBS symptoms (22 studies, n = 3144, RR of improvement in overall IBS symptoms = 1.5, CI 1.23 to 1.83) or overall IBS symptom and abdominal pain scores (18 studies, n = 2766, SMD = -0.31, CI -0.45 to -0.17). In addition, adverse events were not significantly higher with probiotics (8 studies, n = 923, RR = 1.05; 95% CI 0.85-1.31). However, there was no significant benefit on individual IBS symptom scores and quality of life.
Conclusion: Current evidence shows particular combinations, species or strains of probiotics are effective for overall IBS symptoms. However, it is hard to derive a definite conclusion due to high heterogeneity and unclear risk of bias of some trials. Large well-designed and rigorous trials are warranted.