What can the microbiota of pediatric IBD patients reveal about inflammation?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) involves aspects of both the host and the microbiota. Previous research in adults shows that IBD is associated with microbiota differences, but little is known about this association in pediatric patients.

This study from Helsinki, Finland, addressed the intestinal microbiota and inflammation in pediatric IBD. A total of 68 patients (9-18 years old) with IBD and 26 controls provided stool and blood samples. Researchers characterized the microbiota and measured blood and fecal inflammatory markers.

Results showed that the children’s microbiota varied on continuum: increasing intestinal inflammation was associated with reduced microbial richness, abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria, and abundance of Gram-positive bacteria.

32 of the patients received anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) agents. In those who responded to the medication, microbial diversity increased and the microbiota looked more similar to that of controls by week 6; this pattern was not observed in non-responders. The abundance of certain groups of bacteria predicted response to the treatment.

This study was correlative so no inferences can be made about casuation. Authors say that further validation is needed, but that intestinal microbiota are a promising biomarker for inflammation level and therapeutic response in pediatric IBD patients.


Kolho K-L, et al. (2015) Fecal microbiota in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease and its relation to inflammation. American Journal of Gastroenterology doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.149

Paul Enck
Paul Enck
Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany. His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions. He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.