Gram-negative bacteria account for main differences between faecal microbiota from patients with ulcerative colitis and healthy controls

Benef Microbes. 2012 Dec 1;3(4):287-97. doi: 10.3920/BM2012.0018.


Detailed knowledge about the composition of the intestinal microbiota may be critical to unravel the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC), a human chronic inflammatory bowel disease, since the intestinal microbes are expected to influence some of the key mechanisms involved in the inflammatory process of the gut mucosa. The aim of this study was to investigate the faecal microbiota in patients either with UC in remission (n=6) or with active disease (n=6), and in healthy controls (n=6). The composition of Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria was examined. Antigenic structures of Gram-negative bacteria such as lipopolysaccharides have been related to the inflammatory responses and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Dice cluster analysis and principal component analysis of faecal microbiota profiles obtained by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and quantitative PCR, respectively, revealed that the composition of faecal bacteria from UC patients with active disease differed from the healthy controls and that this difference should be ascribed to Gram-negative bacteria. The analysis did not show any clear grouping of UC patients in remission. Even with the relatively low number of subjects in each group, we were able to detect a statistically significant underrepresentation of Lactobacillus spp. and Akkermansia muciniphila in UC patients with clinically active disease compared to the healthy controls. In line with previous communications, we have shown that the microbiota in UC patients with active disease differ from that in healthy controls. Our findings indicate that alterations in the composition of the Gram-negative bacterial population, as well as reduced numbers of lactobacilli and A. muciniphila may play a role in UC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Load / methods
  • Bacteroides / genetics
  • Bacteroides / isolation & purification
  • Bacteroides / pathogenicity
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Metagenome*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Recurrence


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S