Recent advances in characterizing the gastrointestinal microbiome in Crohn's disease: a systematic review

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Jun;21(6):1219-28. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000382.


Background: The intestinal microbiota is involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. A reduction in the diversity of the intestinal microbiota as well as specific taxonomic and functional shifts have been reported in Crohn's disease and may play a central role in the inflammatory process. The aim was to systematically review recent developments in the structural and functional changes observed in the gastrointestinal microbiome in patients with Crohn's Disease.

Results: Seventy-two abstracts were included in this review. The effects of host genetics, disease phenotype, and inflammatory bowel disease treatment on the gastrointestinal microbiome in Crohn's disease were reviewed, and taxonomic shifts in patients with early and established disease were described. The relative abundance of Bacteroidetes is increased and Firmicutes decreased in Crohn's disease compared with healthy controls. Enterobacteriaceae, specifically Eschericia coli, is enriched in Crohn's disease. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is found at lower abundance in Crohn's disease and in those with postoperative recurrence. Observed functional changes include major shifts in oxidative stress pathways, a decrease in butanoate and propanoate metabolism gene expression, lower levels of butyrate, and other short-chain fatty acids, decreased carbohydrate metabolism, and decreased amino acid biosynthesis.

Conclusions: Changes in microbial composition and function have been described, although a causative role remains to be established. Larger, prospective, and longitudinal studies are required with deep interrogation of the microbiome if causality is to be determined, and refined microbial manipulation is to emerge as a focused therapy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroidetes
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Firmicutes
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans