Two distinct metacommunities characterize the gut microbiota in Crohn's disease patients

Gigascience. 2017 Jul 1;6(7):1-11. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/gix050.


The inflammatory intestinal disorder Crohn's disease (CD) has become a health challenge worldwide. The gut microbiota closely interacts with the host immune system, but its functional impact in CD is unclear. Except for studies on a small number of CD patients, analyses of the gut microbiota in CD have used 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing. Here we employed metagenomic shotgun sequencing to provide a detailed characterization of the compositional and functional features of the CD microbiota, comprising also unannotated bacteria, and investigated its modulation by exclusive enteral nutrition. Based on signature taxa, CD microbiotas clustered into 2 distinct metacommunities, indicating individual variability in CD microbiome structure. Metacommunity-specific functional shifts in CD showed enrichment in producers of the pro-inflammatory hexa-acylated lipopolysaccharide variant and a reduction in the potential to synthesize short-chain fatty acids. Disruption of ecological networks was evident in CD, coupled with reduction in growth rates of many bacterial species. Short-term exclusive enteral nutrition elicited limited impact on the overall composition of the CD microbiota, although functional changes occurred following treatment. The microbiotas in CD patients can be stratified into 2 distinct metacommunities, with the most severely perturbed metacommunity exhibiting functional potentials that deviate markedly from that of the healthy individuals, with possible implication in relation to CD pathogenesis.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; exclusive enteral nutrition; gut microbe; metagenomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Crohn Disease / diet therapy
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Enteral Nutrition / adverse effects
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S