While considerable progress has been made in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), alternative options are constantly sought by adult patients as well as frustrated parents of young patients. These include dietary modifications, food supplements, and, more recently, probiotics.Their potential use is based on the demonstrated role of the altered mucosal immune response to bacterial agents that eventually leads to the chronic intestinal inflammation that characterized IBD. In fact, probiotics might conceivably be beneficial due to multiple mechanisms: stimulation of anti-inflammatory cytokines, inhibition of inflammatory cytokines, strengthening of intestinal barrier, and antagonistic action on pathogens. Such mechanisms have been largely extensively investigated in animal models both in vitro and in vivo.Despite such premise, a relatively scarce number of clinical trials are available, and of them only a handful in pediatric age. Overall, available evidence is very disappointing in the treatment of Crohn's disease (CD), where no recommendation for probiotic use can be made. In ulcerative colitis (UC), on the other hand, there is clinical evidence of efficacy for some specific strains and especially for multi-strain preparations.In summary, more data are needed very likely to yield a better understanding on what strains and in what doses should be used in different specific clinical settings.
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; De Simone Formulation; IBD; Inflammatory bowel disease; Lactobacillus; Probiotics; Ulcerative colitis.