Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder and its development may be linked, directly and indirectly, to intestinal dysbiosis. Here we investigated the interactions between IBS symptoms and the gut microbiome, including the relation to rifaximin (1200 mg daily; 11.2 g per a treatment). We recruited 72 patients, including 31 with IBS-D (diarrhea), 11 with IBS-C (constipation), and 30 with IBS-M (mixed constipation and diarrhea) and 30 healthy controls (HCs). Of them, 68%, 64%, and 53% patients with IBS-D, IBS-C, and IBS-M, respectively, achieved 10-12 week-term improvement after the rifaximin treatment. Stool samples were collected before and after the treatment, and fecal microbiotic profiles were analyzed by deep sequencing of 16S rRNA, while stool metabolic profiles were studied by hydrogen 1-nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H-NMR) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Of 26 identified phyla, only Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria were consistently found in all samples. Bacteroidetes was predominant in fecal samples from HCs and IBS-D and IBS-M subjects, whereas Firmicutes was predominant in samples from IBS-C subjects. Species richness, but not community diversity, differentiated all IBS patients from HCs. Metabolic fingerprinting, using NMR spectra, distinguished HCs from all IBS patients. Thirteen metabolites identified by GC-MS differed HCs and IBS patients. However, neither metagenomics nor metabolomics analyses identified significant differences between patients with and without improvement after treatment.
Keywords: 16s rRNA sequencing; irritable bowel syndrome; metabolomics; metagenomics; rifaximin.