The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of synbiotics

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Nov;17(11):687-701. doi: 10.1038/s41575-020-0344-2. Epub 2020 Aug 21.


In May 2019, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) convened a panel of nutritionists, physiologists and microbiologists to review the definition and scope of synbiotics. The panel updated the definition of a synbiotic to "a mixture comprising live microorganisms and substrate(s) selectively utilized by host microorganisms that confers a health benefit on the host". The panel concluded that defining synbiotics as simply a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics could suppress the innovation of synbiotics that are designed to function cooperatively. Requiring that each component must meet the evidence and dose requirements for probiotics and prebiotics individually could also present an obstacle. Rather, the panel clarified that a complementary synbiotic, which has not been designed so that its component parts function cooperatively, must be composed of a probiotic plus a prebiotic, whereas a synergistic synbiotic does not need to be so. A synergistic synbiotic is a synbiotic for which the substrate is designed to be selectively utilized by the co-administered microorganisms. This Consensus Statement further explores the levels of evidence (existing and required), safety, effects upon targets and implications for stakeholders of the synbiotic concept.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference, NIH
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Synbiotics / administration & dosage*


  • Prebiotics