A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: The Effectiveness of Probiotics for Viral Gastroenteritis

Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(11):1042-1051. doi: 10.2174/1389201021666200416123931.


Background: Probiotics can be used for the treatment of viral gastroenteritis.

Objective: This systematic review is to evaluate the evidence regarding the effect of probiotics on human cases of viral gastroenteritis.

Methods: The objective of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of probiotics against placebo or standard treatment for viral gastroenteritis. A comprehensive search of Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE via PubMed and Ovid databases, and unpublished studies (till 27 January 2018) was conducted followed by a process of study selection and critical appraisal by two independent reviewers. Randomized controlled trials assessing probiotic administration in human subjects infected with any species of gastroenteritis viruses were considered for inclusion. Only studies with a confirmed viral cause of infection were included. This study was developed using the JBI methodology for systematic reviews, which is in accordance with the PRISMA guideline. Meta-analysis was conducted where feasible. Data were pooled using the inverse variance method with random effects models and expressed as Mean Differences (MDs) with 95% Confidence Intervals (CIs). Heterogeneity was assessed by Cochran Q statistic and quantified by the I2 statistic. We included 17 RCTs, containing 3,082 patients.

Results: Probiotics can improve symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, including the duration of diarrhea (mean difference 0.7 days, 95% CI 0.31 to 1.09 days, n = 740, ten trials) and duration of hospitalization (mean difference 0.76 days, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.92 days, n = 329, four trials).

Conclusion: The results of this review show that the administration of probiotics in patients with viral gastroenteritis should be considered.

Keywords: Viral gastroenteritis; diarrhea; enteric infections; gastritis; prebiotics; probiotics; virus shedding.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Gastroenteritis / drug therapy*
  • Gastroenteritis / virology
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rotavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology
  • Treatment Outcome