Purpose: To study the therapeutic effects of probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and identify subgroups benefiting most.
Background: Some trials investigating therapeutic effects in irritable bowel syndrome have shown benefits in IBS subgroups only. Probiotic treatment seems to be promising.
Methods: Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (120; Rome II) were recruited to a prospective double-blind study and randomized to either EcN (n = 60) or placebo (n = 60) given for 12 weeks. Objectives were to describe efficacy and safety of EcN in different groups of irritable bowel syndrome. Outcome was assessed by 'Integrative Medicine Patient Satisfaction Scale'.
Results: Altogether, the responder rate was higher in the EcN than in the placebo group. However, only after 10 and 11 weeks, the differences were significant (Δ 20.0% points [95% CI 2.6; 37.4], p = 0.01 and Δ 18.3% points [95% CI 1.0; 35.7], p = 0.02, respectively). The best response was observed in the subgroup of patients with gastroenteritis or antibiotics prior to irritable bowel syndrome onset (Δ 45.7% points, p = 0.029). No significant differences were observed in any other subgroup. Both treatment groups showed similar adverse events and tolerance.
Conclusions: Probiotic EcN shows effects in irritable bowel syndrome, especially in patients with altered enteric microflora, e.g. after gastroenterocolitis or administration of antibiotics.