Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 432–438 | Cite as

Proinflammatory Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria Are More Abundant in Colonic Biopsies of Patients with Microscopic Colitis Compared to Healthy Controls

  • Valentine Millien
  • Daniel Rosen
  • Jason Hou
  • Rajesh ShahEmail author
Original Article



Microscopic colitis (MC), a subtype of inflammatory bowel disease, is a chronic condition of unknown etiology. Recent evidence has linked MC with intriguing changes in the stool microbiota, which may be linked to disease pathogenesis. The composition of the mucosal microbiome in patients with MC remains unclear.


We performed a cross-sectional study comparing colonic tissue samples from patients with MC to those of healthy controls at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. We included adults older than 18 who underwent a colonoscopy with biopsies to evaluate chronic diarrhea. Cases were defined by histology consistent with MC and controls by the absence of histologic disease. We conducted structured chart review to exclude other gastrointestinal diseases and obtain demographic (age, sex, race) and clinical (duration of symptoms and concurrent medications) information for cases and controls. We extracted bacterial DNA from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples and sequenced the v4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Operational taxonomic unit (OTU) clustering was performed using UPARSE, and OTUs were assigned using the SILVA database. Statistical analysis was performed in QIIME and LEfSe. Comparisons with FDR-adjusted p values of less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.


We included 20 MC patients and 20 controls with mean ages of 62 and 54, respectively. Most cases were White (95%), 60% had symptoms for greater than 12 months, and 50% were taking PPIs and NSAIDs at the time of their diagnosis. Compared to controls, MC patients had a significant increase in the proinflammatory sulfur-reducing bacterial family Desulfovibrionales. The Coriobacteriaceae family, abundant in the healthy gut, was significantly decreased in MC cases. There was also an increase in the genus Actinomyces in MC patients on PPI and an increase in the class Bacilli among those taking NSAIDs.


Patients with MC have an increase in the proinflammatory family Desulfovibrionales. Actinomyces and Bacilli were associated with medications (PPI and NSAID) known to increase the risk of MC. Our findings may have important implications for understanding the pathogenesis of MC.


Microscopic colitis Microbiome Sulfur-reducing bacteria Diarrhea 


Author’s contribution

VM contributed in study design, data analysis, and authorship of the manuscript. She has approved of the final draft submission. DR contributed in study design, sample preparation, and authorship of the manuscript. He has approved of the final draft submission. JH contributed in authorship and editorial input. He has approved of the final draft submission. RS contributed in the study design, data abstraction, data analysis, and authorship of the manuscript. He has approved of the final draft submission.


(1) The research reported here was supported in part by resources at the VA HSR&D Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (#CIN 13-413), at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX (JKH). (2) No writing assistance was used in the preparation of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

(1) JH has served as a speaker for AbbVie, Janssen, a consultant for UCB, and served on an advisory board for Pfizer. JH has received research funding from AbbVie, Janssen, Pfizer, Celgene, and RedHill Biopharma. (2) VM, DR, and RS have no financial disclosures.

Supplementary material

10620_2018_5313_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt)Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterHoustonUSA

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