Short-course Rifaximin therapy efficacy and lactulose hydrogen breath test in Chinese patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome

BMC Gastroenterol. 2020 Jun 12;20(1):187. doi: 10.1186/s12876-020-01336-6.


Background: Gut microbiota alterations including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) might play a role in pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Rifaximin could effectively and safely improve IBS symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of rifaximin on Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, quality of life (QOL) and SIBO eradication in Chinese IBS-D patients.

Methods: This study included 78 IBS-D patients defined by the Rome IV criteria. Patients received 400 mg rifaximin twice daily for 2 weeks and 10-week follow-up. GI symptoms were assessed at week 0, 2, 4, 8 and 12. QOL and lactulose hydrogen breath test (LHBT) results were estimated at week 0 and 4.

Results: All participants showed significant improvements in GI symptom subdomains after rifaximin treatment (all P < 0.05), which could maintain at least 10 weeks of follow-up. Additionally, QOL scores were increased with concomitant improvement of clinical symptoms (all P < 0.05). The 45 rifaximin-responsive patients (57.7%) achieved significantly greater GI-symptom improvement than non-responders (all P < 0.05). No GI symptoms were associated with SIBO (all P > 0.05). SIBO normalization after rifaximin treatment measured by LHBT was found in 44.4% (20/45) of patients with SIBO before treatment.

Conclusion: A short course (2 weeks) of rifaximin improved GI symptoms and QOL in Chinese IBS-D patients whether they had SIBO or not. However, the efficacy of rifaximin could not be explained by the successful eradication of SIBO. Further studies on the therapeutic mechanisms of rifaximin in IBS are urgently needed.

Keywords: Irritable bowel syndrome; Quality of life; Rifaximin therapy; Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / complications
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / microbiology
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • China
  • Diarrhea / complications
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology
  • Lactulose / analysis
  • Male
  • Quality of Life
  • Rifaximin / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Lactulose
  • Rifaximin