Global research trends in the microbiome related to irritable bowel syndrome: A bibliometric and visualized study

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Apr 7;27(13):1341-1353. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i13.1341.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder. Dysregulation of the gut-brain axis plays a central role in the pathophysiology of IBS. It is increasingly clear that the microbiome plays a key role in the development and normal functioning of the gut-brain axis.

Aim: To facilitate the identification of specific areas of focus that may be of relevance to future research. This study represents a bibliometric analysis of the literature pertaining to the microbiome in IBS to understand the development of this field.

Methods: The data used in our bibliometric analysis were retrieved from the Scopus database. The terms related to IBS and microbiome were searched in titles or abstracts within the period of 2000-2019. VOSviewer software was used for data visualization.

Results: A total of 13055 documents related to IBS were retrieved at the global level. There were 1872 scientific publications focused on the microbiome in IBS. There was a strong positive correlation between publication productivity related to IBS in all fields and productivity related to the microbiome in IBS (r = 0.951, P < 0.001). The United States was the most prolific country with 449 (24%) publications, followed by the United Kingdom (n = 176, 9.4%), China (n = 154, 8.2%), and Italy (n = 151, 8.1%). The h-index for all retrieved publications related to the microbiome in IBS was 138. The hot topics were stratified into four clusters: (1) The gut-brain axis related to IBS; (2) Clinical trials related to IBS and the microbiome; (3) Drug-mediated manipulation of the gut microbiome; and (4) The role of the altered composition of intestinal microbiota in IBS prevention.

Conclusion: This is the first study to evaluate and quantify global research productivity pertaining to the microbiome in IBS. The number of publications regarding the gut microbiota in IBS has continuously grown since 2013. This finding suggests that the future outlook for interventions targeting the gut microbiota in IBS remains promising.

Keywords: Bibliometric; Brain gut axis; Irritable bowel syndrome; Microbiome; Microbiota; Scopus.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • China
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • Italy
  • Microbiota*
  • United Kingdom