Prebiotics in inflammatory bowel diseases

Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S85-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114507832958.


In genetically susceptible individuals, an altered mucosal immune response against some commensal bacteria of the gut ecosystem appears to be the principal mechanism leading to intestinal lesions in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The information currently available does not provide an exact explanation about the origin of this important dysfunction of the interaction between host and commensal bacteria, but an altered microbial composition has been detected in the gut ecosystem of patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Prebiotics are food ingredients not digested nor absorbed in the upper intestinal tract that are fermented by intestinal bacteria in a selective way promoting changes in the gut ecosystem. Experimental and human studies have shown that inulin and oligofructose stimulate saccharolysis in the colonic lumen and favour the growth of indigenous lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These effects are associated with reduced mucosal inflammation in animal models of IBD. Strong experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that inulin and oligofructose can offer an opportunity to prevent or mitigate intestinal inflammatory lesions in human Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and pouchitis. Encouraging results have been obtained in preliminary clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antigens, Bacterial