Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder characterized by recurring symptoms treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms. of abdominal pain or discomfort and associated Unfortunately, even symptomatic treatment is with disturbed defecation. It affects as many as hindered by a dearth of truly effective therapies. one in five American adults and is among the most The serotonergic medications tegaserod (Zelnorm®) common syndromes seen by gastroenterologists and alosetron (Lotronex®)—both of which had and primary care providers. IBS occurs more been shown to improve patients’ overall quality frequently in women than in men; it is diagnosed of life and moderate many of the motor and before the age of 35 years in about half of patients.
sensory abnormalities associated with IBS—were withdrawn from the U.S. market following reports of serious adverse effects. (Alosetron currently is available through a restricted prescribing program only for the treatment of women with severe IBS with diarrhea; tegaserod is available for recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort (an uncomfortable use in emergency situations only.) Lubiprostone sensation not described as pain) at least 3 days per month (Amitiza®), a locally acting chloride channel in the past 3 months, associated with two or more of the activator, was approved in April 2008 for the treatment of IBS with constipation in women aged 18 years and older. It is not approved for use in men n onset associated with a change in frequency of or for the treatment of other IBS subtypes.
n onset associated with a change in form (appearance) probiotics as a promising therapeutic strategy for IBS. Researchers have reported significant alterations in the intestinal microbiota of patients the criteria must be fulfilled for the last 3 months with with IBS, including a relative decrease in the symptom onset at least 6 months before diagnosis.
number of bifidobacteria. Probiotics have the potential to influence many of the mechanisms Source: Reprinted from Longstreth et al. (see references) with permission from Elsevier. that may underlie the symptoms of IBS, including immune function, intestinal motility, and the IBS is referred to as a “functional disorder,” intraluminal milieu. A growing number of studies meaning that it has no known or detectable show probiotics to be a safe, convenient option for organic causes. The diagnosis is made on the basis improving a wide variety of IBS symptoms.
of symptom-based criteria known as the “Rome criteria” (Table). IBS may be further categorized into one of three subtypes, according to the n IBS with diarrhea (more common in men).
n IBS with alternating symptoms of constipation Pharmacists can ask the following questions Each group accounts for approximately one third of  Do you have recurrent abdominal pain emotional distress. In addition to constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, IBS symptoms may include cramping, bloating, fecal urgency, flatulence, a sense of incomplete evacuation, and straining. The symptoms can be unpredictable and disabling; some patients are unable to work, consult with a health care provider.
attend social events, or even travel short distances. Patients report a diminished quality of life similar to that reported by patients with diabetes or chronic Source: Adapted with permission from the American College renal failure. As many as 70% of patients with IBS do not seek or do not receive medical care for their symptoms (see Is IT IrrITable bowel syndrome?).
BifidoBacterium infantis 35624 (BiFaNtiS®) Species of Bifidobacterium account for tion about their symptoms and stool char- to those observed in healthy volunteers) acteristics each day. Blood samples were only in patients who received B. infantis trointestinal tract of breastfed infants. obtained at the beginning and end of the The high proportion of bifidobacteria may study for measurement of cytokine levels.
be responsible for, or at least contribute to, the health benefits associated with tients who received B. infantis 35624 had colleagues investigated the efficacy of an breastfeeding. Although the percentage of significantly lower scores most weeks for encapsulated formulation of B. infantis bifidobacteria declines with age, they still account for up to 25% of the bacteria in of three daily doses of B. infantis 35624 B. infantis 35624 is a probiotic strain (1 x 106, 1 x 108, or 1 x 1010 CFU/mL) or tients who received L. salivarius UCC4331 their symptoms daily using an interactive reconstructive surgery. (Until that time, parison between the groups receiving B. —was associated with a significant im- primarily from feces, rather than from the infantis 35624 and L. salivarius UCC4331 patients receiving B. infantis 35624. ated with significant improvements in the confirmed the ability of B. infantis 35624 tion, passage of gas, straining, and bowel the benefits of B. infantis 35624 treatment could not be attributed to either a laxa- tive effect or an antidiarrheal effect.
was significant among patients with the leagues administered B. infantis 35624 or Lactobacillus salivarius UCC4331 in a malted (IL)-10 and high levels of IL-12, compared alone as a placebo—to 75 adults with IBS. with those of a group of age-matched and to a global assessment of relief from both Both bacteria were administered at a dose of 1 x 1010 live cells. The study subjects inflammatory state. Cytokine levels were more than 20% greater for B. infantis 35624 normalized (i.e., returned to levels similar American College of Gastroenterology. Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Kassinen A, Krogius-Kurikka L, Mäkivuokko H, et al. The fecal microbiota A Consumer Education Brochure. Available at: of irritable bowel syndrome patients differs significantly from that of ibsrelief/IBS.pdf. Accessed September 9, 2008.
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Camilleri M. Probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome: rationale, puta- Longstreth GF, Thompson WG, Chey WD, et al. Functional bowel tive mechanisms, and evidence of clinical efficacy. J Clin Gastroenterol. disorders. Gastroenterology. 2006;130:1480–91.
Madden JA, Hunter JO. A review of the role of the gut microflora Collins MD, Gibson GR. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: approaches in irritable bowel syndrome and the effects of probiotics. Br J Nutr. for modulating the microbial ecology of the gut. Am J Clin Nutr. Malinen E, Rinttila T, Kajander K, et al. Analysis of the fecal microbiota Drossman DA, Camilleri M, Mayer EA, et al. AGA technical review on of irritable bowel patients and healthy controls with real-time PCR. Am J irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2002;123:2108–31.
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Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves Amitiza for IBS-C [press National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Irritable bowel release]. Rockville, MD: Food and Drug Administration; April 29, 2008. syndrome. Available at: Available at:
O’Mahony L, McCarthy J, Kelly P, et al. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in Food and Drug Administration Web site. Lotronex (alosetron hydro- irritable bowel syndrome: symptom responses and relationship to cytokine chloride) information. Available at: profiles. Gastroenterology. 2005;128:541–51.
infopage/lotronex/lotronex.htm. Accessed September 12, 2008.
Parkes GC, Brostoff J, Whelan K, et al. Gastrointestinal microbiota in Food and Drug Administration Web site. Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) irritable bowel syndrome: their role in its pathogenesis and treatment. information. Available at: Am J Gastroenterol. 2008;103:1557–67.
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Whorwell PJ, Altringer L, Morel J, et al. Efficacy of an encapsulated probi- Hammerle CW, Surawicz CM. Updates on treatment of irritable bowel otic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in women with irritable bowel syndrome. syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2008;14:2639–49.
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