Persistent Diarrhea in Patients With Crohn's Disease After Mucosal Healing Is Associated With Lower Diversity of the Intestinal Microbiome and Increased Dysbiosis


BACKGROUND & AIMS: In patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), symptoms do not always associate with the severity of endoscopic inflammation and can persist after mucosal healing. We investigated whether symptoms in patients with successfully treated IBD are related to the composition of the intestinal microbiome. METHODS: We analyzed 590 tissue biopsy specimens from 215 patients with IBD and 48 healthy individuals (controls). We obtained mucosal biopsy specimens from 2 colon sites (ascending and rectosigmoid) and from the terminal ileum along with clinical data. Bacterial DNA was extracted from the biopsy specimens and the V4 region of 16s ribosomal RNA sequenced by Miseq and processed using the QIIME v1.9 pipeline. RESULTS: Mucosal biopsy specimens from patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) who achieved mucosal healing (Mayo scores of 0-1 or segmental endoscopic severity CD scores of 0-5) had lower Chao1 diversity than biopsy specimens from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) or unclassified IBD (IBD-U), or controls. After endoscopic evidence of improvement in patients with UC or IBD-U, diversity of the tissue-associated microbiota did not differ significantly from that of controls. Colon biopsy specimens from patients with CD had lower microbial diversity, before and after healing (segmental endoscopic severity CD scores, 0-2), than colon biopsy specimens from controls (P textless .002). In patients with CD who achieved mucosal healing, residual clinical activity (CD activity index scores textgreater150; P = .03) and persistent diarrhea were associated with reduced microbial diversity (P = .01). Continued diarrhea was associated with a trend toward dysbiosis, based on the microbial dysbiosis index (P = .059). In patients with UC or IBD-U with moderate to severe inflammation, increasing severity of diarrhea was associated with reduced microbial diversity (P = .03). CONCLUSIONS: In an analysis of biopsy specimens from patients with IBD and controls, we found that despite endoscopic evidence of improvement or remission, α-diversity of the tissue-associated intestinal microbiome remained lower in patients with CD than in controls. This observation, along with the reduced Chao1 diversity and greater dysbiosis in intestinal microbiota of patients with residual symptoms of IBD, indicates that microbiome composition could be associated with persistent diarrhea.

Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: The Official Clinical Practice Journal of the American Gastroenterological Association