Background: A diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) may relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, nutritional counseling is resource-demanding and not all patients will benefit.
Aims: To explore whether gut microbial composition may identify symptom response to a low-FODMAP diet in patients with IBS.
Methods: Patients were recruited consecutively to participate in a 4-week FODMAP-restricted diet. Response to diet was defined as ≥ 50% decrease in IBS symptom severity scores (IBS-SSS) compared to baseline. Fecal microbiota were analyzed by a commercially available method (the GA-map™ Dysbiosis Test), assessing 54 bacterial markers targeting more than 300 bacteria at different taxonomic levels.
Results: Sixty-one patients (54 F; 7 M) were included: 32 (29 F; 3 M) classified as responders and 29 (25 F; 4 M) as non-responders. Ten of the 54 bacterial markers differed significantly between responders and non-responders. Based on median values (used as cutoff) of responders for these 10 bacterial markers, we constructed a Response Index (RI): Each patient was given a point when the value for each selected bacterial marker differed from the cutoff. These points were summed up, giving an RI from 0 to 10. Patients with RI > 3 were 5 times more likely to respond (OR = 5.05, 95% CI [1.58; 16.10]), and the probability to respond was 83.4%, 95% CI [61.2-94%].
Conclusions: Gut microbial composition, assessed by using a new RI, may constitute a tool to identify patients that are likely to respond to dietary FODMAP restriction.
Keywords: Clinical nutrition; Functional gastrointestinal disorders; Gut microbiome; Irritable bowel severity scoring system.