Background: Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis is a powerful tool to assess the diversity of complexed microbiota. This permits rapid comparison of microbiota from many samples. In this study, we performed T-RFLP analysis of the fecal microbiota from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC).
Methods: Forty-four patients with UC (23 women and 21 men, median age 25 years) and 46 healthy individuals (25 women and 21 men, median age 34 years) were enrolled in this study. DNA was extracted from their stool samples, and the 16S rRNA genes were amplified by PCR. The PCR products were then digested with HhaI and/or MspI restriction enzymes, and the length of the T-RF was determined.
Results: The fecal microbial communities were classified in 8 clusters. Almost all the healthy individuals (39 of 46) were included in cluster I, and most of the UC patients could be divided into the other 7 clusters, indicating that fecal bacterial communities are different between healthy individuals and active UC patients. Some T-RFs, derived from the unclassified bacteria, Ruminococcus, Eubacterium, Fusobacterium, gammaproteobacteria, unclassified Bacteroides, and unclassified Lactobacillus, were detected in the UC patients, but not in the healthy individuals. The T-RFLP patterns were also different between the active patients and inactive (remission) patients. The T-RF derived from the unclassified bacteria, Ruminococcus and Eubacterium, and the T-RFs derived from the unclassified bacteria, Eubacterium, and Fusobacterium were predominantly detected in the active patients not the inactive patients. In contrast, the T-RFs derived from Lactobacillus and unclassified Lactobacillus were more predominant in the inactive (remission) patients. In 4 patients with proctitis, the pattern of fecal microbial diversity was very similar.
Conclusions: T-RFLP analyses showed that the diversity of fecal microbiota in patients with UC was different from that in healthy individuals. Unclassified bacteria, as well as known bacteria, can contribute to alterations in the bacterial diversity of UC patients.