Probiotics for induction of remission in Crohn's disease

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Jul 17;7(7):CD006634. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006634.pub3.


Background: Crohn's disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, in which the pathogenesis is believed to be partly influenced by the gut microbiome. Probiotics can be used to manipulate the microbiome and have therefore been considered as a potential therapy for CD. There is some evidence that probiotics benefit other gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, but their efficacy in CD is unclear. This is the first update of a Cochrane Review previously published in 2008.

Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of probiotics for the induction of remission in CD.

Search methods: The following electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE (from inception to 6 July 2020), Embase (from inception to 6 July 2020), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), The Cochrane IBD Review Group Specialised Trials Register, World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry, and

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared probiotics with placebo or any other non-probiotic intervention for the induction of remission in CD were eligible for inclusion.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of included studies. The primary outcome was clinical remission. Risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for dichotomous outcomes.

Main results: There were two studies that met criteria for inclusion. One study from Germany had 11 adult participants with mild-to-moderate CD, who were treated with a one-week course of corticosteroids and antibiotics (ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily and metronidazole 250 mg three times a day), followed by randomised assignment to Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (two billion colony-forming units per day) or corn starch placebo. The other study from the United Kingdom (UK) had 35 adult participants with active CD (CDAI score of 150 to 450) randomised to receive a synbiotic treatment (comprised of freeze-dried Bifidobacterium longum and a commercial product) or placebo. The overall risk of bias was low in one study, whereas the other study had unclear risk of bias in relation to random sequence generation, allocation concealment, and blinding. There was no evidence of a difference between the use of probiotics and placebo for the induction of remission in CD (RR 1.06; 95% CI 0.65 to 1.71; 2 studies, 46 participants) after six months. There was no difference in adverse events between probiotics and placebo (RR 2.55; 95% CI 0.11 to 58.60; 2 studies, 46 participants). The evidence for both outcomes was of very low certainty due to risk of bias and imprecision.

Authors' conclusions: The available evidence is very uncertain about the efficacy or safety of probiotics, when compared with placebo, for induction of remission in Crohn's disease. There is a lack of well-designed RCTs in this area and further research is needed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use
  • Placebos / adverse effects
  • Probiotics / adverse effects
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Remission Induction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Placebos
  • Metronidazole
  • Ciprofloxacin