Effect of Exclusive Enteral Nutrition and Corticosteroid Induction Therapy on the Gut Microbiota of Pediatric Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Nutrients. 2020 Jun 5;12(6):1691. doi: 10.3390/nu12061691.


Introduction: Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) and corticosteroids (CS) are effective induction therapies for pediatric Crohn's Disease (CD). CS are also therapy for ulcerative colitis (UC). Host-microbe interactions may be able to explain the effectiveness of these treatments. This is the first prospective study to longitudinally characterize compositional changes in the bacterial community structure of pediatric UC and CD patients receiving EEN or CS induction therapy.

Methods: Patients with diagnoses of CD or UC were recruited from McMaster Children's Hospital (Hamilton, Canada). Fecal samples were collected from participants aged 5-18 years old undergoing 8 weeks of induction therapy with EEN or CS. Fecal samples were submitted for 16S rRNA sequencing. The Shannon diversity index and the relative abundance of specific bacterial taxa were compared using a linear mixed model.

Results: The clustering of microbiota was the highest between patients who achieved remission compared to patients still showing active disease (p = 0.029); this effect was independent of the diagnosis or treatment type. All patients showed a significant increase in Shannon diversity over the 8 weeks of treatment. By week 2, a significant difference was seen in Shannon diversity between patients who would go on to achieve remission and those who would not.

Conclusion: The gut microbiota of pediatric UC and CD patients was most influenced by patients' success or failure to achieve remission and was largely independent of the choice of treatment or disease type. Significant differences in Shannon diversity indices occurred as early as week 2 between patients who went on to achieve remission and those who continued to have active disease.

Keywords: exclusive enteral nutrition; induction of remission; microbiome; pediatric inflammatory bowel disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / microbiology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Induction Chemotherapy*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission Induction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Crohn's disease