Characterization of Bacterial and Fungal Microbiome in Children with Hirschsprung Disease with and without a History of Enterocolitis: A Multicenter Study

PLoS One. 2015 Apr 24;10(4):e0124172. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124172. eCollection 2015.


Development of potentially life-threatening enterocolitis is the most frequent complication in children with Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), even after definitive corrective surgery. Intestinal microbiota likely contribute to the etiology of enterocolitis, so the aim of this study was to compare the fecal bacterial and fungal communities of children who developed Hirschsprung-associated enterocolitis (HAEC) with HSCR patients who had never had enterocolitis. Eighteen Hirschsprung patients who had completed definitive surgery were enrolled: 9 had a history of HAEC and 9 did not. Fecal DNA was isolated and 16S and ITS-1 regions sequenced using Next Generation Sequencing and data analysis for species identification. The HAEC group bacterial composition showed a modest reduction in Firmicutes and Verrucomicrobia with increased Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria compared with the HSCR group. In contrast, the fecal fungi composition of the HAEC group showed marked reduction in diversity with increased Candida sp., and reduced Malassezia and Saccharomyces sp. compared with the HSCR group. The most striking finding within the HAEC group is that the Candida genus segregated into "high burden" patients with 97.8% C. albicans and 2.2% C. tropicalis compared with "low burden" patients 26.8% C. albicans and 73% C. tropicalis. Interestingly even the low burden HAEC group had altered Candida community structure with just two species compared to more diverse Candida populations in the HSCR patients. This is the first study to identify Candida sp. as potentially playing a role in HAEC either as expanded commensal species as a consequence of enterocolitis (or treatment), or possibly as pathobioants contributing to the pathogenesis of HAEC. These findings suggest a dysbiosis in the gut microbial ecosystem of HAEC patients, such that there may be dominance of fungi and bacteria predisposing patients to development of HAEC.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteroidetes / genetics
  • Bacteroidetes / isolation & purification
  • Candida / classification
  • Candida / genetics
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / isolation & purification
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Enterocolitis / complications*
  • Enterocolitis / etiology
  • Enterocolitis / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Firmicutes / genetics
  • Firmicutes / isolation & purification
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Hirschsprung Disease / complications*
  • Hirschsprung Disease / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Fungal