Probiotics in Gastroenterology


Perturbation of bacterial microflora of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may play an important role in the pathophysiology of some GI disorders. Probiotics are dietary supplements that have shown potential benefit in the treatment and prevention of various gastrointestinal (GI) disease states. 

GI Microbiota-The term microbiota refers to a community of microorganisms populating one defined environment. The majority of human gut microbiota consists of members of bacterial phyla such as Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria, with many species of anaerobic, commensal bacteria still being specifically identified.

Probiotics restore normal bacterial microflora and effect the functioning of the GI tract by a variety of mechanisms:

  • Maintain epithelial gut barrier function
  • Modulate immune cell responses against pathogens
  • Reduce survival and virulence of pathogens

Irritable Bowel Syndrome-IBS is characterized by symptoms of chronic, episodic abdominal pain, discomfort, and altered bowel habits. probiotics may benefit patients with either diarrhea- or constipation-predominant IBS by reducing symptoms.

Probiotic formulations and delivery systems-Probiotics are available in a wide variety of formulations ranging from tablets and powders to yogurts, milk, and juices. Physicians tend to recommend tablets and powders; other formulations are heavily promoted by direct-to-consumer marketing.

Angelina Jonas
Journal of Probiotics and Health
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