Research ArticleGUT MICROBIOTA

Transplantation of fecal microbiota from patients with irritable bowel syndrome alters gut function and behavior in recipient mice

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Science Translational Medicine  01 Mar 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 379, eaaf6397
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6397

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Connecting the gut-brain axis

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the most common gastrointestinal disorder worldwide, is characterized by abdominal pain and altered gut function and often is accompanied by anxiety. An association between intestinal dysbiosis and IBS has been reported, but the functional relevance remains unknown. De Palma and colleagues colonized germ-free mice with fecal microbiota from healthy controls or IBS patients with diarrhea (IBS-D) who did or did not have anxiety. They demonstrated that transplantation of fecal microbiota from patients with IBS-D and anxiety resulted in altered gut function and behavior in mouse recipients, including faster gastrointestinal transit, low-grade inflammation, and anxiety-like behavior.

Abstract

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder characterized by altered gut function and often is accompanied by comorbid anxiety. Although changes in the gut microbiota have been documented, their relevance to the clinical expression of IBS is unknown. To evaluate a functional role for commensal gut bacteria in IBS, we colonized germ-free mice with the fecal microbiota from healthy control individuals or IBS patients with diarrhea (IBS-D), with or without anxiety, and monitored gut function and behavior in the transplanted mice. Microbiota profiles in recipient mice clustered according to the microbiota profiles of the human donors. Mice receiving the IBS-D fecal microbiota showed a taxonomically similar microbial composition to that of mice receiving the healthy control fecal microbiota. However, IBS-D mice showed different serum metabolomic profiles. Mice receiving the IBS-D fecal microbiota, but not the healthy control fecal microbiota, exhibited faster gastrointestinal transit, intestinal barrier dysfunction, innate immune activation, and anxiety-like behavior. These results indicate the potential of the gut microbiota to contribute to both intestinal and behavioral manifestations of IBS-D and suggest the potential value of microbiota-directed therapies in IBS patients.

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