Efficacy and safety of spore-forming probiotics in the treatment of functional dyspepsia: a pilot randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

L. Wauters, H. Slaets, K. De Paepe, M. Ceulemans, S. Wetzels, K. Geboers, J. Toth, W. Thys, R. Dybajlo, D. Walgraeve, E. Biessen, K. Verbeke, J. Tack, T. Van de Wiele, N. Hellings, T. Vanuytsel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Current treatments for functional dyspepsia have limited efficacy or present safety issues. We aimed to assess spore-forming probiotics in functional dyspepsia as monotherapy or add-on therapy to long-term treatment with proton-pump inhibitors.Methods In this single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial that took place at University Hospitals Leuven (Leuven, Belgium), adult patients (>= 18 years) with functional dyspepsia (as defined by Rome IV criteria, on proton-pump inhibitors or off proton-pump inhibitors) were randomly assigned (1:1) via computergenerated blocked lists, stratified by proton-pump inhibitor status, to receive 8 weeks of treatment with probiotics (Bacillus coagulans MY01 and Bacillus subtilis MY02, 2.5 x 10. colony-forming units per capsule) or placebo consumed twice per day, followed by an open-label extension phase of 8 weeks. Individuals with a history of abdominal surgery, diabetes, coeliac or inflammatory bowel disease, active psychiatric conditions, and use of immunosuppressant drugs, antibiotics, or probiotics in the past 3 months were excluded. All patients and on-site study personnel were masked to treatment allocation in the first 8 weeks. Symptoms, immune activation, and faecal microbiota were assessed and recorded. The primary endpoint was a decrease of at least 0.7 in the postprandial distress syndrome (PDS) score of the Leuven Postprandial Distress Scale in patients with a baseline PDS score of 1 or greater (at least mild symptoms), assessed in the intention-to-treat population. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04030780.Findings Between June 3, 2019, and March 11, 2020, of 93 individuals assessed for eligibility, we included 68 patients with functional dyspepsia (51 [75%] women, mean age 40.1 years [SD 14.4], 34 [50%] on proton-pump inhibitors). We randomly assigned 32 participants to probiotics and 36 to placebo. The proportion of clinical responders was higher with probiotics (12 [48%] of 25) than placebo (six [20%] of 30; relative risk 1.95 [95% CI 1.07-4.11]; p=0.028). The number of patients with adverse events was similar with probiotics (five [16%] of 32) and placebo (12 [33%] of 36). Two serious adverse events occurring during the open-label phase (appendicitis and syncope in two separate patients) were assessed as unlikely to be related to the study product.Interpretation In this exploratory study, B coagulans MY01 and B subtilis MY02 were efficacious and safe in the treatment of functional dyspepsia. Participants had potentially beneficial immune and microbial changes, which could provide insights into possible underlying mechanisms as future predictors or treatment targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-792
Number of pages9
JournalThe Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021



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