Review of the role of probiotics in gastrointestinal diseases in adults

Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Jun-Jul;40(6):417-429. doi: 10.1016/j.gastrohep.2016.12.003. Epub 2017 Feb 7.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Background: Probiotics may act as biological agents that modify the intestinal microbiota and certain cytokine profiles, which can lead to an improvement in certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Objectives: To conduct a review of the evidence of the role of probiotics in certain gastrointestinal diseases in adults.

Search methods: Review conducted using appropriate descriptors, filters and limits in the PubMed database (MEDLINE).

Selection criteria: The MeSH terms used were Probiotics [in the title] AND Gastrointestinal Diseases, with the following limits or filters: Types of study: Systematic Reviews, Meta-Analysis, Guideline, Practice Guideline, Consensus Development Conference (and Consensus Development Conference NIH), Randomized Controlled Trial, Controlled Clinical Trial and Clinical Trial; age: adults (19 or older); language: English and Spanish; in humans, and with at least one abstract.

Data collection and analysis: Full texts of all the Systematic Reviews and meta-analyses directly related to the review's objective were obtained, as well as the Randomised Controlled Trials of the studies that were considered relevant and of sufficient quality for this review.

Main results: Certain probiotics, different for each process, have proven to be effective and beneficial in cases of acute infectious diarrhoea, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea, pouchitis and Helicobacter pylori infection eradication.

Authors' conclusions: Although some probiotics have not demonstrated any benefit, there are certain gastrointestinal diseases in which the use of probiotics, true biological agents, can be recommended.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium; Clostridium difficile; Colitis ulcerosa; Colitis, Ulcerative; Constipation; Crohn disease; Diarrea; Diarrhea; Enfermedad de Crohn; Estreñimiento; Gastrointestinal diseases; Helicobacter pylori; Irritable bowel syndrome; Lactobacillus; Pouchitis; Probiotics; Probióticos; Reservoritis; Síndrome del intestino irritable.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Diarrhea / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Helicobacter Infections / therapy
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cytokines