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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2006 Mar;40(3):260-3.

Probiotics in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Al, Canada.


The demonstration that immune and epithelial cells can discriminate between different microbial species has extended our understanding of the actions of probiotics beyond simple antimicrobial concepts. Several probiotic mechanisms of action, relative to inflammatory bowel disease, have been elucidated: (1) competitive exclusion, whereby probiotics compete with microbial pathogens; (2) immunomodulation and/or stimulation of an immune response; (3) antimicrobial activity and suppression of pathogen growth; (4) enhancement of barrier activity; and (5) induction of T cell apoptosis. The unraveling of these mechanisms of action has led to new support for the use of probiotics in the management of clinical inflammatory bowel disease. While level 1 evidence now supports the therapeutic use of some probiotics in the maintenance treatment of pouchitis, only level 2 and 3 evidence are currently available in support of the use of probiotics in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Nevertheless, one significant and consistent finding has emerged over the course of research in the past year: not all probiotic bacteria have similar therapeutic effects. Rigorously designed, controlled clinical trials, to investigate the unresolved issues related to efficacy, dose, duration of use, single or multistrain formulation, and the concomitant use of prebiotics, synbiotics or antibiotics, are vital.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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