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Frontline Gastroenterol. 2020 Jan;11(1):62-69. doi: 10.1136/flgastro-2018-101057. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

Antibiotics and probiotics in inflammatory bowel disease: when to use them?

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Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Houston Methodist, Houston, Texas, USA.


Antibiotics and probiotics are often used as adjunctive therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. However, data are limited and randomised controlled trials are too inconsistent to provide generalised recommendations for their use in all patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Antibiotics are best used in the management of infectious complications and fistulas in Crohn's disease and, perhaps, in reducing the intensity of inflammation in luminal disease. Ciprofloxacin, metronidazole and rifaximin have been most widely used and studied. On the other hand, there appears to be a limited role for antibiotics in ulcerative colitis (UC). Probiotics are most effective in pouchitis, and may have a role in the initial therapy and maintenance of remission in mild UC; the probiotic cocktail VSL#3 has been the most widely studied. There is scant evidence of efficacy for probiotics in Crohn's disease.


antibiotics; crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; key points; probiotics; ulcerative colitis

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