Effects of PrObiotics on the Symptoms and Surgical ouTComes after Anterior REsection of Colon Cancer (POSTCARE): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 10;9(7):2181. doi: 10.3390/jcm9072181.


We investigated microbiota changes following surgical colon cancer resection and evaluate effects of probiotics on microbiota and surgical recovery. This randomized double-blind trial was performed at four medical centers in South Korea. Of 68 patients expected to undergo anterior sigmoid colon cancer resection, 60 were eligible, of whom 29 and 31 received probiotics and placebo, respectively, for four weeks, starting at one week preoperatively. Third- and/or fourth-week information on anterior resection syndrome (ARS), inflammatory markers, and quality of life was obtained. Stool sample analysis was conducted after randomization and bowel preparation and at three and four postoperative weeks. Bacteria were categorized into Set I (with probiotic effects) and II (colon cancer-associated). The probiotic group's ARS score showed an improving trend (p = 0.063), particularly for flatus control (p = 0.030). Serum zonulin levels significantly decreased with probiotics. Probiotic ingestion resulted in compositional changes in gut microbiota; greater increases and decreases in Set I and II bacteria, respectively, occurred with probiotics. Compositional increase in Set I bacteria was associated with reduced white blood cells, neutrophils, neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio, and zonulin. Bifidobacterium composition was negatively correlated with zonulin levels in the probiotic group. Probiotics improved postoperative flatus control and modified postoperative changes in microbiota and inflammatory markers.

Keywords: anti-bacterial agents; gastrointestinal microbiome; quality of life; sigmoid neoplasms; treatment outcome.