Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are characterized by wasting and chronic intestinal inflammation triggered by various cytokine-mediated pathways. In recent years, it was shown that T helper 17 (Th17) cells are involved in the pathogenesis of IBD, which makes them an attractive therapeutic target. Th17 cells preferentially produce interleukin (IL)-17A-F as signature cytokines. The role of the interplay between host genetics and intestinal microbiota in the pathogenesis of IBD was demonstrated. Probiotics are live microorganisms that when orally ingested in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host by modulating the enteric flora or by stimulating the local immune system. Several studies indicated the effectiveness of probiotics in preventing and treating IBD (ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease). Furthermore, there is mounting evidence of probiotics selectively targeting the Th17 lineage in the prevention and management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as IBD. This review highlights critical roles of Th17 cells in the pathogenesis of IBD and the rationale for using probiotics as a novel therapeutic approach for IBD through manipulation of Th17 cells. The potential molecular mechanisms by which probiotics modulate Th17 cells differentiation and production are also discussed.
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