Gut Microbiota in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome-A Systematic Review

Gastroenterology. 2019 Jul;157(1):97-108. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.03.049. Epub 2019 Mar 30.


Background & aims: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common but difficult to treat. Altering the gut microbiota has been proposed as a strategy for treatment of IBS, but the association between the gut microbiome and IBS symptoms has not been well established. We performed a systematic review to explore evidence for this association.

Methods: We searched databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CDSR, and CENTRAL, through April 2, 2018 for case-control studies comparing the fecal or colon microbiomes of adult or pediatric patients with IBS with microbiomes of healthy individuals (controls). The primary outcome was differences in specific gut microbes between patients with IBS and controls.

Results: The search identified 2631 citations; 24 studies from 22 articles were included. Most studies evaluated adults presenting with various IBS subtypes. Family Enterobacteriaceae (phylum Proteobacteria), family Lactobacillaceae, and genus Bacteroides were increased in patients with IBS compared with controls, whereas uncultured Clostridiales I, genus Faecalibacterium (including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii), and genus Bifidobacterium were decreased in patients with IBS. The diversity of the microbiota was either decreased or not different in IBS patients compared with controls. More than 40% of included studies did not state whether cases and controls were comparable (did not describe sex and/or age characteristics).

Conclusions: In a systematic review, we identified specific bacteria associated with microbiomes of patients with IBS vs controls. Studies are needed to determine whether these microbes are a product or cause of IBS.

Keywords: Comparison; Infection; Inflammation; Intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroides
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Clostridiales
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Faecalibacterium
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillaceae