Prebiotics for people with cystic fibrosis

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Background: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multisystem disease; the importance of growth and nutritional status is well established given their implications for lung function and overall survivability. Furthermore, it has been established that intestinal microbial imbalance and inflammation are present in people with CF. Oral prebiotics are commercially available substrates that are selectively utilised by host intestinal micro-organisms and may improve both intestinal and overall health. Objectives: To evaluate the benefits and harms of prebiotics for improving health outcomes in children and adults with CF. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis Trials Register compiled from electronic database searches and handsearching of journals and conference abstract books. We also searched the reference lists of relevant articles and reviews. Date of last search: 19 October 2022. We also searched PubMed and online trials registries. Date of last search: 13 January 2023. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs assessing the efficacy of prebiotics in children and adults with CF. We planned to only include the first treatment period from cross-over RCTs, regardless of washout period. Data collection and analysis: We did not identify any relevant trials. Main results: We did not identify any relevant trials for inclusion in this review. Authors' conclusions: This review did not find any evidence for the use of prebiotics in people with CF. Until such evidence is available, it is reasonable for clinicians to follow any local guidelines and to discuss the use of dietary prebiotics with their patients. Large and robust RCTs assessing the dietary prebiotics of inulin or galacto-oligosaccharides or fructo-oligosaccharides, or any combination of these, are needed. Such studies should be of at least 12 months in duration and assess outcomes such as growth and nutrition, gastrointestinal symptoms, pulmonary exacerbations, lung function, inflammatory biomarkers, hospitalisations, intestinal microbial profiling, and faecal short-chain fatty acids. Trials should include both children and adults and aim to be adequately powered to allow for subgroup analysis by age.




Williams, N. C., Jayaratnasingam, J., Prayle, A. P., Nevitt, S. J., & Smyth, A. R. (2023). Prebiotics for people with cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2023(9).

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