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Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jun;2(3):337-55. doi: 10.1586/17474124.2.3.337.

Rationale for probiotic treatment strategies in inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Medicine Section, University of Otago Medical School, PO Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand. michael.schultz@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

Abstract

Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are recurrent and aggressive inflammatory disorders that are most likely the result of an overly aggressive immune response to ubiquitous intestinal antigens in a genetically susceptible host. Despite decades of intense research, our knowledge of factors causing IBD remains incomplete and, therefore, conventional therapy to induce and maintain remission works in a symptomatic fashion, merely suppressing the immune response. Probiotic bacteria have long been known to confer health benefits, especially with regard to intestinal disorders. Although there is mounting evidence from in vitro and animal experiments supporting the use of probiotics in IBD, clinical trials have not provided definite evidence for the therapeutic effect of probiotic therapy in IBD to date. This is with the notable exception of pouchitis and the maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis, whereas Crohn's disease and active ulcerative colitis do not seem amenable to probiotic intervention. The next 5 years will see more trials targeting specific clinical settings using tailor-made probiotic combinations, taking into account our increasing knowledge of individual probiotic properties and the diversity of these microorganisms.

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