Functional dysbiosis within the gut microbiota of patients with constipated-irritable bowel syndrome

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Apr;35(7):828-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2012.05007.x. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


Background: The role of the gut microbiota in patho-physiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is suggested by several studies. However, standard cultural and molecular methods used to date have not revealed specific and consistent IBS-related groups of microbes.

Aim: To explore the constipated-IBS (C-IBS) gut microbiota using a function-based approach.

Methods: The faecal microbiota from 14 C-IBS women and 12 sex-match healthy subjects were examined through a combined strictly anaerobic cultural evaluation of functional groups of microbes and fluorescent in situ hybridisation (16S rDNA gene targeting probes) to quantify main groups of bacteria. Starch fermentation by C-IBS and healthy faecal samples was evaluated in vitro.

Results: In C-IBS, the numbers of lactate-producing and lactate-utilising bacteria and the number of H(2) -consuming populations, methanogens and reductive acetogens, were at least 10-fold lower (P < 0.05) compared with control subjects. Concomitantly, the number of lactate- and H(2) -utilising sulphate-reducing population was 10 to 100 fold increased in C-IBS compared with healthy subjects. The butyrate-producing Roseburia - E. rectale group was in lower number (0.01 < P < 0.05) in C-IBS than in control. C-IBS faecal microbiota produced more sulphides and H(2) and less butyrate from starch fermentation than healthy ones.

Conclusions: A major functional dysbiosis was observed in constipated-irritable bowel syndrome gut microbiota, reflecting altered intestinal fermentation. Sulphate-reducing population increased in the gut of C-IBS and were accompanied by alterations in other microbial groups. This could be responsible for changes in the metabolic output and enhancement in toxic sulphide production which could in turn influence gut physiology and contribute to IBS pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Constipation / microbiology*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult