The fecal microbiota as a biomarker for disease activity in Crohn's disease

Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 13:6:35216. doi: 10.1038/srep35216.


Monitoring mucosal inflammation is crucial to prevent complications and disease progression in Crohn's disease (CD). Endoscopy is the current standard, but is invasive. Clinical activity scores and non-invasive biochemical markers do not correlate well with mucosal inflammation. Microbial perturbations have been associated with disease activity in CD. Therefore, we aimed to investigate its potential use to differentiate CD patients in remission from those with an exacerbation. From 71 CD patients repeated fecal samples were collected, resulting in 97 active disease and 97 remission samples based on a combination of biochemical and clinical parameters. The microbiota composition was assessed by pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA V1-V3 region. Random Forest analysis was used to find the most discriminatory panel of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) between active and remission samples. An independent internal validation set was used to validate the model. A combination of 50 OTUs was able to correctly predict 73% of remission and 79% of active samples with an AUC of 0.82 (sensitivity: 0.79, specificity: 0.73). This study demonstrates that fecal microbial profiles can be used to differentiate between active and remission CD and underline the potential of the fecal microbiota as a non-invasive tool to monitor disease activity in CD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers*
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology
  • Crohn Disease / pathology*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers