Purpose of review: Microbial dysbiosis is receiving increasing attention as possibly being important in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. This review will summarize the most recent literature addressing attempts to explore and target the microbiome in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Recent findings: Manipulation of the intestinal microbiota in irritable bowel syndrome is receiving increasing attention. Traditionally, dietary manipulation has been utilized. There is now evidence that a low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols diet has not only been able to improve symptoms, but may have an effect on the gut microbiota. Probiotics are a safe and attractive option for the manipulation of the microbiota. There have been a number of well-designed trials examining the efficacy of certain strains of bacteria, and even yeasts are receiving attention. The role of antibiotics remains controversial and it seems likely that their use should currently be limited to those individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Interest in the role of faecal microbiota transplantation for the treatment of a number of gastrointestinal conditions has intensified and irritable bowel syndrome is no exception.
Summary: The manipulation of the microbial dysbiosis is gaining momentum. Further research, however, is required in order to identify the most appropriate treatment option for each individual patient.