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Int J Colorectal Dis. 2012 Apr;27(4):467-74. doi: 10.1007/s00384-011-1363-9. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

A double-blind placebo-controlled trial to study therapeutic effects of probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 in subgroups of patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

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  • 1Evangelisches Krankenhaus Kalk, University of Cologne, Buchforststrasse 2, 51103, Cologne, Germany.



To study the therapeutic effects of probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and identify subgroups benefiting most.


Some trials investigating therapeutic effects in irritable bowel syndrome have shown benefits in IBS subgroups only. Probiotic treatment seems to be promising.


Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (120; Rome II) were recruited to a prospective double-blind study and randomized to either EcN (n = 60) or placebo (n = 60) given for 12 weeks. Objectives were to describe efficacy and safety of EcN in different groups of irritable bowel syndrome. Outcome was assessed by 'Integrative Medicine Patient Satisfaction Scale'.


Altogether, the responder rate was higher in the EcN than in the placebo group. However, only after 10 and 11 weeks, the differences were significant (Δ 20.0% points [95% CI 2.6; 37.4], p = 0.01 and Δ 18.3% points [95% CI 1.0; 35.7], p = 0.02, respectively). The best response was observed in the subgroup of patients with gastroenteritis or antibiotics prior to irritable bowel syndrome onset (Δ 45.7% points, p = 0.029). No significant differences were observed in any other subgroup. Both treatment groups showed similar adverse events and tolerance.


Probiotic EcN shows effects in irritable bowel syndrome, especially in patients with altered enteric microflora, e.g. after gastroenterocolitis or administration of antibiotics.

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