Introduction: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic gastrointestinal (GI) tract disorder with significant disability and a considerable financial burden to health service due to the consumption of resources including investigations, physician time, and cost of treatment. Despite availability of multiple treatment options, there is still poor functional recovery.
Areas covered: Probiotics has been investigated as a promising treatment for IBS, and have demonstrated beneficial effects in some patients. There are many clinical trials investigating the therapeutic benefits of probiotics in IBS but most of them are heterogenic in terms of dose or species used and clinical endpoints. However, recent major meta-analyses revealed benefits of probiotics in patients with IBS. Inhibition of binding of pathogenic bacteria to intestinal epithelial cells, enhancing barrier function of intestinal epithelial, acidification of the colon, suppression of the growth of pathogens, modulation of immunity, inhibition of visceral hypersensitivity, alteration in mucosal response to stress, and improvement of bowel dysmotility are among mechanisms that probiotics may act. Most commonly used probiotics come from the genera Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus but other species are in trial.
Expert opinion: Although further studies are still needed, current evidences are almost enough to convince experts that probiotics are efficient in the treatment of IBS.