Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a prevalent systemic autoimmune disease, caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Animal models suggest a role for intestinal bacteria in supporting the systemic immune response required for joint inflammation. Here we performed 16S sequencing on 114 stool samples from rheumatoid arthritis patients and controls, and shotgun sequencing on a subset of 44 such samples. We identified the presence of Prevotella copri as strongly correlated with disease in new-onset untreated rheumatoid arthritis (NORA) patients. Increases in Prevotella abundance correlated with a reduction in Bacteroides and a loss of reportedly beneficial microbes in NORA subjects. We also identified unique Prevotella genes that correlated with disease. Further, colonization of mice revealed the ability of P. copri to dominate the intestinal microbiota and resulted in an increased sensitivity to chemically induced colitis. This work identifies a potential role for P. copri in the pathogenesis of RA. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01202.001.
Keywords: arthritis; autoimmunity; inflammation; metagenomics; microbiome; rheumatoid.