, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 365-373
Date: 25 Mar 2014

Gut microbiota modulation: probiotics, antibiotics or fecal microbiota transplantation?

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Abstract

Gut microbiota is known to have a relevant role in our health, and is also related to both gastrointestinal and extradigestive diseases. Therefore, restoring the alteration of gut microbiota represents an outstanding clinical target for the treatment of gut microbiota-related diseases. The modulation of gut microbiota is perhaps an ancestral, innate concept for human beings. At this time, the restoration of gut microbiota impairment is a well-established concept in mainstream medicine, and several therapeutic approaches have been developed in this regard. Antibiotics, prebiotics and probiotics are the best known and commercially available options to overcome gastrointestinal dysbiosis. Fecal microbiota transplantation is an old procedure that has recently become popular again. It has shown a clear effectiveness in the treatment of C. difficile infection, and now represents a cutting-edge option for the restoration of gut microbiota. Nevertheless, such weapons should be used with caution. Antibiotics can indeed harm and alter gut microbiota composition. Probiotics, instead, are not at all the same thing, and thinking in terms of different strains is probably the only way to improve clinical outcomes. Moreover, fecal microbiota transplantation has shown promising results, but stronger proofs are needed. Considerable efforts are needed to increase our knowledge in the field of gut microbiota, especially with regard to the future use in its modulation for therapeutic purposes.