Inflammatory Bowel DiseasePre, Pro, Synbiotics

Update on probiotics to treat inflammatory bowel disease

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia have reviewed treatment options.

Intestinal bacteria play an important role in the disease process of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Here’s what they say about probiotics.

Probiotics studied in IBD.

  • Lactobacillus GG
  • Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1
  • Escherichia coli Nissle 197
  • VSL#3 (a combination of Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum, B. infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei and L. bulgaricus)

Lactobacillus GG

  • In children with Crohn’s disease there was no benefit when added to standard care.

L. johnsonii LA1

  • In adults, following surgery for Crohn’s disease there was no benefit in preventing relapse vs placebo.

E. coli Nissle 197

  • When compared to mesalamine (Pentasa), there were equal rates of relapse after 1 year in patients with ulcerative colitis.


  • Significant decrease in the incidence of pouchitis (drawing here) after 1 year.

Probiotics were well tolerated. Adverse events included abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

The bottom line?
The results are preliminary but encouraging. Better understanding of IBD and more sophisticated use of probiotics will help define their role.

1/2/08 18:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.