Methodological Quality Assessment of Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews of Probiotics in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Pouchitis

PLoS One. 2016 Dec 22;11(12):e0168785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168785. eCollection 2016.


Background: Probiotics are widely used for the induction and maintenance of remission in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and pouchitis. There are a large number of meta-analyses (MAs)/ systematic reviews (SRs) on this subject, the methodological quality of which has not been evaluated.

Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the methodological quality of and summarize the evidence obtained from MAs/SRs of probiotic treatments for IBD and pouchitis patients.

Methods: The PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases were searched to identify Chinese and English language MAs/SRs of the use of probiotics for IBD and pouchitis. The Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) scale was used to assess the methodological quality of the studies.

Results: A total of 36 MAs/SRs were evaluated. The AMSTAR scores of the included studies ranged from 1 to 10, and the average score was 5.81. According to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, 4 articles were classified as high quality, 24 articles were classified as moderate quality, and 8 articles were classified as low quality. Most of the MAs/SRs suggested that probiotics had potential benefits for patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), but failed to show effectiveness in the induction and maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease (CD). The probiotic preparation VSL#3 may play a beneficial role in pouchitis.

Conclusion: The overall methodological quality of the current MAs/SRs in the field of probiotics for IBD and pouchitis was found to be low to moderate. More MAs/SRs of high quality are required to support using probiotics to treat IBD and pouchitis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Pouchitis / drug therapy*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Publications / standards*
  • Remission Induction

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.