Aim: To assess the effects of probiotic Medilac-S® as adjunctive therapy for the induction of remission of ulcerative colitis (UC) in a Chinese population through a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted to find randomized, controlled trials in a Chinese population with at least two study arms - a control arm which receives a conventional, oral aminosalicylate drug, and a treatment arm, which administers the same conventional drug in conjunction with the probiotic Medilac-S® per os. Both English and Chinese databases were searched, including PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data, and VIP Search, and study data was extracted onto standardized abstraction sheets. Meta-analyses were conducted for primary and secondary outcomes of interest using a fixed or random effects model. The primary outcome was the induction of clinical remission and the secondary outcomes included changes in Sutherland index, endoscopic and histological scores, proportion of reported clinical symptoms and adverse events (AEs). For outcomes with sufficient data, the type of conventional drug therapy was also assessed to determine if the effects of combination therapy with Medilac-S® was influenced by drug type. All tests were conducted using a type I error rate of 0.05 and all confidence intervals (CI) were based on a 95% confidence level. Review protocol was uploaded to PROSPERO (CRD42018085658 upon completion).
Results: Fifty-three clinical trials with a total of 3984 participants were identified and included in the review. Medilac-S® adjunctive therapy significantly improved induction of clinical remission (RR = 1.21; 95%CI: 1.18-1.24; P < 0.0001) with the estimated likelihood of effective treatment, on average, 21% higher for those consuming the probiotic. Sutherland index scores showed the control mean was on average 3.10 (CI: 2.41-3.78; P = 0.0428) units greater than the treatment mean, thereby demonstrating significant improvement in participants taking the probiotic. Similarly, a significant difference was seen between the overall reduction of endoscopic and histological scores of control and treatment arm participants, with score decreases in the control groups 0.71 (CI: 0.3537-1.0742) and 1.1 (CI: 0.9189-1.2300) units smaller than treatment group score decreases. The proportion of participants reporting clinical symptoms, (abdominal pain, tenesmus, blood and mucous in stool, and diarrhea) was significantly reduced after combination therapy with Medilac-S® (P < 0.0001) and estimated to be on average 44% (RR = 0.44, CI: 0.32-0.59), 53% (RR = 0.53, CI: 0.38-74), 40% (RR = 0.40, CI: 0.28-0.58) and 47% (RR = 0.47 CI: 0.36-0.42) respectively, of the proportion of individuals reporting the aforementioned symptoms after conventional therapy alone. The risk of AEs was also significantly reduced with adjunctive Medilac-S® therapy. The proportion of individuals in the treatment groups reporting AEs was an estimated 72% of the proportion of individuals in the control groups reporting AEs (RR = 0.72, CI: 0.55-0.94, P = 0.0175). Upon comparing effect means for different drug types in conjunction with Medilac-S®, evidence of significant variability (P < 0.0001) was observed, and sulfasalazine was found to be the most effective drug in both primary and secondary outcomes.
Conclusion: Evidence suggests Medilac-S® adjunctive therapy should be considered standard care for UC in a Chinese population because it aids in the induction of clinical remission, improves symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract and reduces risk of AEs.
Keywords: Clinical remission; Medilac-S®; Mesalazine; Meta-analysis; Sulfasalazine; Systematic review; Ulcerative colitis.