Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-shortening genetic disorder that affects the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein. In the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, CFTR dysfunction results in low intestinal pH, thick and inspissated mucus, a lack of endogenous pancreatic enzymes, and reduced motility. These mechanisms, combined with antibiotic therapies, drive GI inflammation and significant alteration of the GI microbiota (dysbiosis). Dysbiosis and inflammation are key factors in systemic inflammation and GI complications including malignancy. The following review examines the potential for probiotic and prebiotic therapies to provide clinical benefits through modulation of the microbiome. Evidence from randomised control trials suggest probiotics are likely to improve GI inflammation and reduce the incidence of CF pulmonary exacerbations. However, the highly variable, low-quality data is a barrier to the implementation of probiotics into routine CF care. Epidemiological studies and clinical trials support the potential of dietary fibre and prebiotic supplements to beneficially modulate the microbiome in gastrointestinal conditions. To date, limited evidence is available on their safety and efficacy in CF. Variable responses to probiotics and prebiotics highlight the need for personalised approaches that consider an individual’s underlying microbiota, diet, and existing medications against the backdrop of the complex nutritional needs in CF.
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