Background: The aim of this study was to clarify the effect of 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) treatment on gut bacterial microbiota in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Methods: A total of 57 UC patients, including 20 untreated and 37 5-ASA-treated, were recruited into an exploration cohort. We endoscopically collected both non-inflamed and inflamed mucosal samples from all patients, and compared the gut bacterial profiles using 16S rDNA sequencing. Ten untreated UC patients were then treated with 5-ASA and subsequently recruited for an independent validation study to confirm the acquired data. Results: In untreated UC patients, compared with those in non-inflamed mucosae, Firmicutes (such as Enterococcus) were decreased and Proteobacteria (e.g., Escherichia-Shigella) were increased in the inflamed mucosae. Compared with the inflamed mucosae of untreated UC patients, there was a higher abundance of Firmicutes (e.g., Enterococcus) and lower Proteobacteria (Escherichia-Shigella) in the inflamed mucosae of 5-ASA treated UC patients. In the validation cohort, after administration of 5-ASA, bacterial alteration was consistent with these data. Furthermore, there was a skewed negative correlation between Escherichia-Shigella and bacterial genera of Firmicutes in the inflamed mucosae. 5-ASA treatment decreased the strength of bacterial correlation and weakened the skewed negative correlation pattern. Conclusion: The microbial dysbiosis (mainly characterized by an increased abundance in the Escherichia-Shigella genus) and the skewed negative correlation between Escherichia-Shigella and bacterial genera of Firmicutes are two characteristics of the inflamed mucosae of UC patients. 5-ASA treatment decreases Escherichia-Shigella and weakens the skewed correlations, which may be related to its treatment efficiency.
Keywords: 5-aminosalicylic acid; bacterial correlation; bacterial dysbiosis; mucosal microbiota; ulcerative colitis.