Background and aims: Diet is both a modulator of the gastrointestinal microbiota and an important therapy in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We aimed to comprehensively (i) identify diet-microbiota associations in adults with IBS consuming habitual diet; (ii) assess the impact of two nutritional interventions on the microbiota; and (iii) determine whether baseline microbiota can predict clinical response to diet or probiotic intervention.
Methods: Data were analyzed from 95 individuals with IBS participating in a previously published 4-week 2x2 factorial design randomized controlled trial investigating the impact of the low FODMAP diet (LFD) and co-administration of a probiotic. Diet was assessed at four hierarchical levels and partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to profile the microbiota.
Results: There were numerous diet-microbiota associations especially at the nutrient level, including a negative association between protein and Bifidobacterium abundance (rs = -0.358, p < 0.001). After correction for multiple testing, the significance for this association (q = 0.237) and all others was lost. Low FODMAP diet led to changes in abundance of major saccharolytic genera compared with sham diet, including higher Bacteroides (LFD 34.1% (15.7%) vs sham 23.3% (15.2%), q = 0.01) and lower Bifidobacterium (0.9% (1.0%) vs 2.1%, (2.5%) q = 0.029). Compared with placebo, probiotic supplementation led to higher Lactobacillus (probiotic 0.08% (0.1%) vs placebo 0.03% (0.2%), q < 0.001), and Streptococcus abundance (2.0% (2.2%) vs 0.6% (1.2%), q = 0.001). The probiotic treatment buffered the impact of the low FODMAP diet on Bifidobacterium. Baseline microbiota did not predict clinical response to either intervention.
Conclusions: Although diet modifies the gut microbiota, bivariate correlation analysis may only provide a limited explanation of the complex diet interactions with individual gut bacteria in IBS. Some diet interventions modify the microbiota in IBS.
Trial registry: ISRCTN (http://www.isrctn.com) Registered under ISRCTN registry identifier no.ISRCTN02275221.
Keywords: Diet; Dietary pattern; Irritable bowel syndrome; Microbiota; Probiotic.
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