While a variety of probiotic preparations have been quite extensively studied in the short-term treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), little is known regarding the efficacy of prebiotics - the nondigestible but fermentable foods that promote the growth of one or a number of species of beneficial commensal flora in the human colon - in IBS. In this study, a specially designed prebiotic, a trans-galactooligosaccharide, was studied in two doses, 3.5 and 7 g, in a single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 4-weeks duration in Rome II-positive IBS patients. The researchers found that the prebiotic altered the fecal flora, increasing the numbers of Bifidobacteria in a dose-dependent manner and also improved, but in a less predictable manner, individual IBS symptoms, such as flatulence and bloating, as well as impacting on a composite score of the subjects' global assessment of relief and quality of life. This study indicates that prebiotics, either on their own or in combination with a probiotic, deserve further study in IBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-492
Number of pages6
JournalExpert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Fecal microflora
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorder
  • Gut flora
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Microbiota
  • Prebiotic
  • Probiotic
  • Trans-galactooligosaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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