Probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome

World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Sep 28;19(36):5973-80. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i36.5973.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common gastrointestinal problems. It is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and is associated with changes in stool frequency and/or consistency. The etiopathogenesis of IBS may be multifactorial, as is the pathophysiology, which is attributed to alterations in gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, intestinal microbiota, gut epithelium and immune function, dysfunction of the brain-gut axis or certain psychosocial factors. Current therapeutic strategies are often unsatisfactory. There is now increasing evidence linking alterations in the gastrointestinal microbiota and IBS. Probiotics are living organisms which, when ingested in certain numbers, exert health benefits beyond inherent basic nutrition. Probiotics have numerous positive effects in the gastrointestinal tract. Recently, many studies have suggested that probiotics are effective in the treatment of IBS. The mechanisms of probiotics in IBS are very complex. The purpose of this review is to summarize the evidence and mechanisms for the use of probiotics in the treatment of IBS.

Keywords: Brain-gut axis; Immune function; Irritable bowel syndrome; Probiotics; Visceral hypersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Therapy / methods
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Probiotics / adverse effects
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome