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Pubmed-Efficacy and safety of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2024 Apr;60:362-372. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2024.02.025. Epub 2024 Feb 29.


BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disease characterized by abdominal pain, distension, and altered bowel habits. Probiotics may alleviate IBS symptoms, but clinical trials remain conflicting.

AIMS: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy and safety of probiotics for IBS patients.

METHODS: We searched relevant trials in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar from 2000 to June 2023. Standardized mean difference (SMD) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated for continuous outcomes. A risk ratio (RR) and a 95% CI were calculated for dichotomous outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 20 studies involving 3011 patients were obtained. The results demonstrated that probiotics are more effective than placebo in reducing global IBS symptoms improvement rate (RR = 1.401, 95% CI 1.182-1.662, P < 0.001) and quality of life scores (SMD = 0.286, 95% CI = 0.154-0.418, P < 0.001). Subgroup analyses showed that a shorter treatment time (less than eight weeks) could reduce distension scores (SMD = 0.197, 95% CI = 0.038-0.356, P = 0.015). High doses (daily dose of probiotics ≥ 10ˆ10) or multiple strains of probiotics exhibit beneficial effects on abdominal pain (SMD = 0.412, 95% CI = 0.112-0.711, P = 0.007; SMD = 0.590, 95% CI = 0.050-1.129, P = 0.032; respectively). However, there was no significant benefit on global symptom scores (SMD = 0.387, 95% CI 0.122 to 0.653, P = 0.004) with statistically high inter-study heterogeneity (I2 = 91.9%, P < 0.001). Furthermore, there was no significant inter-group difference in terms of adverse events frequency (RR = 0.997, 95% CI 0.845-1.177, P = 0.973).

CONCLUSION: Probiotics are effective and safe for IBS patients. High doses or multiple probiotic strains seem preferable, but definite conclusions are challenging due to the high heterogeneity. Large-scale, well-designed, and rigorous trials are needed to confirm their effectiveness.

PMID:38479936 | DOI:10.1016/j.clnesp.2024.02.025

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