Critical appraisal of the SIBO hypothesis and breath testing: A clinical practice update endorsed by the European society of neurogastroenterology and motility (ESNM) and the American neurogastroenterology and motility society (ANMS)

Purna Kashyap, Paul Moayyedi, Eamonn M.M. Quigley, Magnus Simren, Stephen Vanner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is compelling evidence that microbe-host interactions in the intestinal tract underlie many human disorders, including disorders of gut-brain interactions (previously termed functional bowel disorders), such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been recognized for over a century in patients with predisposing conditions causing intestinal stasis, such as surgical alteration of the small bowel or chronic diseases, including scleroderma and is associated with diarrhea and signs of malabsorption. Over 20 years ago, it was hypothesized that increased numbers of small intestine bacteria might also account for symptoms in the absence of malabsorption in IBS and related disorders. This SIBO-IBS hypothesis stimulated significant research and helped focus the profession's attention on the importance of microbe-host interactions as a potential pathophysiological mechanism in IBS. Purpose: However, after two decades, this hypothesis remains unproven. Moreover, it has led to serious unintended consequences, namely the widespread use of unreliable and unvalidated breath tests as a diagnostic test for SIBO and a resultant injudicious use of antibiotics. In this review, we examine why the SIBO hypothesis remains unproven and, given the unintended consequences, discuss why it is time to reject this hypothesis and its reliance on breath testing. We also examine recent IBS studies of bacterial communities in the GI tract, their composition and functions, and their interactions with the host. While these studies provide important insights to guide future research, they highlight the need for further mechanistic studies of microbe-host interactions in IBS patients before we can understand their possible role in diagnosis and treatment of patient with IBS and related disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14817
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Keywords

  • bloating
  • disorders of gut-brain interaction
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • lactulose hydrogen breath test
  • microbiome
  • small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology

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