Background: A gluten-free diet reduces symptoms in some patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) through unclear mechanisms.
Aims: To assess the effects of gluten-free versus gluten-containing diet on symptoms and the gut microenvironment, and to identify predictors of response to the gluten-free diet in IBS METHODS: Twenty patients with IBS and 18 healthy controls (HC) followed a gluten-free diet during two 14-day intervention periods where they sprinkled either gluten (14 g/day) or rice flour powder over their meals. Primary outcomes included effects of the interventions on IBS symptoms (IBS-SSS) and bowel habits. Secondary outcomes included effects of gluten-free diet on faecal microbiota and metabolite profile.
Results: IBS symptoms improved during the gluten-free (p = 0.02), but not the gluten-containing period, with no difference between the interventions. IBS patients reported fewer loose stools during the gluten-free intervention (p = 0.01). Patients with IBS and HC presented distinct metabolite profiles based on the effects of the gluten-free diet (p < 0.001). True responders (reduced IBS-SSS by ≥50 solely after gluten-free period) and non-responders were discriminated based on the effects of the gluten-free diet on the microbiota (p < 0.01) and metabolite profiles (p < 0.001). The response to the gluten-free diet could be predicted by the metabolite profile before the intervention (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: A gluten-free diet may influence symptoms in a subset of patients with IBS, with a particular effect on bowel habits. A gluten-free diet seems to impact the gut microenvironment. Responsiveness to the gluten-free diet may be predicted by the metabolite profile.
Clinicaltrials: gov: NCT03869359.
© 2022 The Authors. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.