Impact of probiotics on cognition and constipation in the elderly: A meta-analysis

Neeraja Recharla, Jihee Choi, Pradeep Puligundla, Seon Joo Park, Hae Jeung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cognitive decline and constipation are common complications in the elderly. Probiotics are potential therapeutic agents to ameliorate cognitive impairment through gut-brain axis. Several clinical studies have investigated the beneficial effects of probiotics on cognitive impairment and constipation in elderly. However, a quantitative meta-analysis is required to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics on cognitive function and constipation. Thirteen clinical studies were included in this meta-analysis. We examined the risk of bias assessment and heterogeneity of eight studies for cognition and five studies for constipation, followed by group and subgroup meta-analyses using a random-effects model to evaluate the potential of probiotic supplements on cognition function and constipation in aged people. The results of the pooled meta-analysis revealed that probiotic supplementation did not improve the cognitive rating scale assessment for all studies (estimate = 0.13; 95%CI [-0.18, 0.43]; p = 0.41; I2 = 83.51%). However, subgroup analysis of single strain supplementation showed improved cognitive function in elderly people (estimate = 0.35; 95%CI [0.02, 0.69]; p = 0.039; I2 = 19.19%) compared to multiple strains. Probiotics also enhanced defecation frequency in constipated patients (estimate = 0.27; 95%CI [0.05, 0.5]; p = 0.019; I2 = 67.37%). Furthermore, probiotic supplementation resulted in higher fecal Lactobacillus counts than placebo (estimate = 0.37; 95%CI [0.05, 0.69]; p = 0.026; I2 = 21.3%). Subgroup analysis indicated that a probiotic intervention period of ≥4 weeks was more effective (estimate = 0.35; 95%CI [0.01, 0.68]; p = 0.044; I2 = 0%) in reducing constipation symptoms than a short intervention duration. Based on these results, probiotic supplementation could be a potential intervention to reduce constipation symptoms in the elderly population. The heterogeneity between studies is high, and limited trials are available to evaluate the cognitive function of aged individuals using probiotics. Therefore, further studies are required to determine the effect of probiotics on cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere18306
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive function
  • Constipation
  • Defecation frequency
  • Elder
  • Meta-analysis
  • Microbiota
  • Probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of probiotics on cognition and constipation in the elderly: A meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this