The present paper summarizes the consensus views of a group of 9 European clinicians and scientists on the current state of scientific knowledge on probiotics, covering those areas where there is substantial evidence for beneficial effects and those where the evidence base is poor or inconsistent. There was general agreement that probiotic effects were species and often strain specific. The experts agreed that some probiotics were effective in reducing the incidence and duration of rotavirus diarrhoea in infants, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in adults and, for certain probiotics, Clostridium difficile infections. Some probiotics are associated with symptomatic improvements in irritable bowel syndrome and alleviation of digestive discomfort. Probiotics can reduce the frequency and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants and have been shown to regulate intestinal immunity. Several other clinical effects of probiotics, including their role in inflammatory bowel disease, atopic dermatitis, respiratory or genito-urinary infections or H.pylori adjuvant treatment were thought promising but inconsistent.
Keywords: diarrhea; expert consensus; gut immunity; gut microbiota; inflammatory bowel diseases; irritable bowel syndrome; probiotics; strain specificity.
© 2010 Landes Bioscience