Current understanding of microbiota- and dietary-therapies for treating inflammatory bowel disease

J Microbiol. 2018 Mar;56(3):189-198. doi: 10.1007/s12275-018-8049-8. Epub 2018 Feb 28.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a result of chronic inflammation caused, in some part, by dysbiosis of intestinal microbiota, mainly commensal bacteria. Gut dysbiosis can be caused by multiple factors, including abnormal immune responses which might be related to genetic susceptibility, infection, western dietary habits, and administration of antibiotics. Consequently, the disease itself is characterized as having multiple causes, etiologies, and severities. Recent studies have identified >200 IBD risk loci in the host. It has been postulated that gut microbiota interact with these risk loci resulting in dysbiosis, and this subsequently leads to the development of IBD. Typical gut microbiota in IBD patients are characterized with decrease in species richness and many of the commensal, and beneficial, fecal bacteria such as Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes and an increase or bloom of Proteobacteria. However, at this time, cause and effect relationships have not been rigorously established. While treatments of IBD usually includes medications such as corticosteroids, 5-aminosalicylates, antibiotics, immunomodulators, and anti-TNF agents, restoration of gut dysbiosis seems to be a safer and more sustainable approach. Bacteriotherapies (now called microbiota therapies) and dietary interventions are effective way to modulate gut microbiota. In this review, we summarize factors involved in IBD and studies attempted to treat IBD with probiotics. We also discuss the potential use of microbiota therapies as one promising approach in treating IBD. As therapies based on the modulation of gut microbiota becomes more common, future studies should include individual gut microbiota differences to develop personalized therapy for IBD.

Keywords: dysbiosis; gut microbiota; inflammatory bowel disease; prebiotics; probiotics; short chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteroidetes / physiology
  • Dysbiosis / complications
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / physiology
  • Firmicutes / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diet therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Proteobacteria / physiology
  • Symbiosis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha