Identification of universal gut microbial biomarkers of common human intestinal diseases by meta-analysis

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2017 Dec 1;93(12). doi: 10.1093/femsec/fix153.


Intestinal diseases, such as Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and pseudomembranous colitis (CDI), are among the most common diseases in humans and may lead to more serious pathologies, e.g. colorectal cancer (CRC). Next generation sequencing has in recent years allowed the identification of correlations between intestinal bacteria and diseases, although the formulation of universal gut microbial biomarkers for such diseases is only in its infancy. In the current study, we selected and reanalyzed a total of 3048 public datasets obtained from 16S rRNA profiling of individuals affected by CD, UC, CDI and CRC. This meta-analysis revealed possible biases in the reconstruction of the gut microbiota composition due to the use of different primer pairs employed for PCR of 16S rRNA gene fragments. Notably, this approach also identified common features of individuals affected by gut diseases (DS), including lower biodiversity compared to control subjects. Moreover, potential universal intestinal disease microbial biomarkers were identified through cross-disease comparisons. In detail, CTRL showed high abundance of the genera Barnesiella, Ruminococcaceae UCG-005, Alistipes, Christensenellaceae R-7 group and unclassified member of Lachnospiraceae family, while DS exhibited high abundance of Lactobacillus, unclassified member of Erysipelotrichaceae family and Streptococcus genera.

Keywords: gut diseases; metagenomics; microbial biomarkers; microbiome; microbiota.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biodiversity
  • Biomarkers
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / microbiology*
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S