Introduction: Helicobacter pylori colonization is present in half of the world's population and can lead to numerous gastrointestinal diseases if left untreated, including peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. Although concurrent triple therapy remains the recommended treatment regimen for H. pylori eradication, its success rate and efficacy have been declining. Recent studies have shown that the addition of probiotics can significantly increase eradication rates by up to 50%. This meta-analysis examines the impact of probiotic supplementation on the efficacy of standard triple therapy in eradicating H. pylori.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using PubMed, Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials, and Google Scholar (time of inception to 2016) to identify all published randomized control trials (RCTs) assessing the use of probiotics in addition to triple therapy for the treatment of H. pylori. Searches were conducted using the keywords "probiotics", "triple therapy", and "Helicobacter pylori". RCTs comparing the use of probiotics and standard triple therapy with standard triple therapy alone for any duration in patients of any age diagnosed with H. pylori infection were included. H. pylori eradication rates (detected using urea breath test or stool antigen) were analyzed as-per-protocol (APP) and intention-to-treat (ITT).
Results: A total of 30 RCTs involving 4,302 patients APP and 4,515 patients ITT were analyzed. The addition of probiotics significantly increased eradication rates by 12.2% (relative risk [RR] =1.122; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.091-1.153; P<0.001) APP and 14.1% (RR =1.141; 95% CI, 1.106-1.175; P<0.001) ITT. Probiotics were beneficial among children and adults, as well as Asians and non-Asians. No significant difference was observed in efficacy between the various types of probiotics. The risk of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and epigastric pain was also reduced.
Conclusion: The addition of probiotics is associated with improved H. pylori eradication rates in both children and adults, as well as Asians and non-Asians. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, and mixtures of probiotics appear beneficial in H. pylori eradication. Furthermore, the reduction in antibiotic-associated side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and epigastric pain improves medication tolerance and patient compliance. Given the consequences associated with chronic H. pylori infection, the addition of probiotics to the concurrent triple therapy regimen should be considered in all patients with H. pylori infection. However, further studies are required to identify the optimal probiotic species and dose.
Keywords: Helicobacter pylori; meta-analysis; probiotics; triple therapy.