The last ten years' wide progress in the gut microbiota phylogenetic and functional characterization has been made evidencing dysbiosis in several gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a functional gut disease with high prevalence and negative impact on patient's quality of life characterized mainly by visceral pain and/or discomfort, representing a good paradigm of chronic gut hypersensitivity. The IBS features are strongly regulated by bidirectional gut-brain interactions and there is increasing evidence for the involvement of gut bacteria and/or their metabolites in these features, including visceral pain. Further, gut microbiota modulation by antibiotics or probiotics has been promising in IBS. Mechanistic data provided mainly by animal studies highlight that commensals or probiotics may exert a direct action through bacterial metabolites on sensitive nerve endings in the gut mucosa, or indirect pathways targeting the intestinal epithelial barrier, the mucosal and/or systemic immune activation, and subsequent neuronal sensitization and/or activation.
Keywords: brain-gut axis; gut permeability; intestinal barrier; irritable bowel syndrome; microbiota; probiotics; stress; visceral pain.