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