Changes in a patient’s gut microbiota could help clinicians differentiate patients with inflammatory bowel disease and those with irritable bowel syndrome, according to research published in Science Translational Medicine.
Arnau Vich Vila of the department of gastroenterology and hepatology at University Medical Center Groningen, in the Netherlands, and colleagues wrote that with further research, this could lead to tools that will assist doctors in making diagnoses for both conditions.
“The gut microbiota is presumed to play a large role in both IBD and IBS,” they wrote. “However, thus far, large-scale gut microbiome sequencing associated with IBD and IBS compared with healthy controls has only been accomplished using low-resolution 16S ribosomal RNA marker gene sequencing.”
While past studies have focused on single bacteria species or strains in the gut, Vich Vila and colleagues used high-resolution, shotgun metagenomic sequencing to get a wider picture of the bacteria that make-up the gut microbiota.
Researchers conducted a case-control analysis of 1,792 patients with IBD (n = 355) and IBS (n = 412) and compared them with control individuals (n = 1,025). They collected stool samples and performed sequencing at the species and strain level.
In their analysis, investigators determined the growth rate for 40 species and found that growth was altered in four species in patients with Crohn’s disease, five species in patients with ulcerative colitis and one species in patients who had been diagnosed with IBS by a gastroenterologist. Regarding CD, bacterial growth rates of Bacteroides fragilis and Escherichia coli were increased compared with control patients.
Vich Vila and colleagues wrote that future research could lead to the development of new diagnostic tools and reveal potential targets for new treatments.
“Sophisticated models that include a combination of different blood or stool biomarkers and that have been validated in a replication cohort are required to design new diagnostic tests,” they wrote. “Our results suggest that in the future the use of probes directed at key bacterial species could complement fecal calprotectin measurements in distinguishing the diagnosis of IBS and IBD.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: Vich Vila reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.