The mucosa-associated microbiota of PSC patients is characterized by low diversity and low abundance of uncultured Clostridiales II

J Crohns Colitis. 2015 Apr;9(4):342-8. doi: 10.1093/ecco-jcc/jju023. Epub 2014 Dec 28.


Background: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a cholestatic liver disease that is strongly associated with a particular phenotype of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with right-sided colonic involvement. In IBD, several studies demonstrated significant aberrancies in the intestinal microbiota in comparison with healthy controls. We aimed to explore the link between IBD and PSC by studying the intestinal mucosa-adherent microbiota in PSC and ulcerative colitis (UC) patients and noninflammatory controls.

Methods: We included 12 PSC patients, 11 UC patients, and nine noninflammatory controls. The microbiota composition was determined in ileocecal biopsies from each patient by 16S rRNA-based analyses using the human intestinal tract chip.

Results: Profiling of the mucosa-adherent microbiota of PSC patients, UC patients, and noninflammatory controls revealed that these groups did not cluster separately based on microbiota composition. At the genus-like level, the relative abundance of uncultured Clostridiales II was significantly lower (almost 2-fold) in PSC (0.26 ± 0.10%) compared with UC (0.41 ± 0.29%) and controls (0.49 ± 0.25%) (p = 0.02). Diversity and richness in the microbiota composition differed across the groups and were significantly lower in PSC patients compared with noninflammatory controls (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively). No significant differences were found in evenness.

Conclusions: Reduced amounts of uncultured Clostridiales II in PSC biopsies in comparison with UC and healthy controls can be considered a signature of a compromised gut, as we have recently observed that this group of as yet uncultured Firmicutes correlates significantly with health.

Keywords: Primary sclerosing cholangitis; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / diagnosis
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / etiology*
  • Clostridiales / genetics
  • Clostridiales / isolation & purification*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis
  • Colonoscopy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Bacterial