Studies of the roles of microbial communities in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have reached an important milestone. A decade of genome-wide association studies and other genetic analyses have linked IBD with loci that implicate an aberrant immune response to the intestinal microbiota. More recently, profiling studies of the intestinal microbiome have associated the pathogenesis of IBD with characteristic shifts in the composition of the intestinal microbiota, reinforcing the view that IBD results from altered interactions between intestinal microbes and the mucosal immune system. Enhanced technologies can increase our understanding of the interactions between the host and its resident microbiota and their respective roles in IBD from both a large-scale pathway view and at the metabolic level. We review important microbiome studies of patients with IBD and describe what we have learned about the mechanisms of intestinal microbiota dysfunction. We describe the recent progress in microbiome research from exploratory 16S-based studies, reporting associations of specific organisms with a disease, to more recent studies that have taken a more nuanced view, addressing the function of the microbiota by metagenomic and metabolomic methods. Finally, we propose study designs and methodologies for future investigations of the microbiome in patients with inflammatory gut and autoimmune diseases in general.
Keywords: Crohn's Disease; Metagenomics; Microbiota; Ulcerative Colitis.
Copyright © 2014 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.