Fructan-sensitive children with irritable bowel syndrome have distinct gut microbiome signatures

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Feb;53(4):499-509. doi: 10.1111/apt.16204. Epub 2020 Dec 13.


Background: Dietary fructans may worsen gastrointestinal symptoms in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Aim: To determine whether gut microbiome composition and function are associated with childhood IBS fructan-induced symptoms.

Methods: Faecal samples were collected from 38 children aged 7-17 years with paediatric Rome III IBS, who previously completied a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled crossover (fructan vs maltodextrin) trial. Fructan sensitivity was defined as an increase of ≥30% in abdominal pain frequency during the fructan diet. Gut microbial composition was determined via 16Sv4 rDNA sequencing. LEfSe evaluated taxonomic composition differences. Tax4Fun2 predicted microbial fructan metabolic pathways.

Results: At baseline, 17 fructan-sensitive (vs 21 fructan-tolerant) subjects had lower alpha diversity (q < 0.05) and were enriched in the genus Holdermania. In contrast, fructan-tolerant subjects were enriched in 14 genera from the class Clostridia. During the fructan diet, fructan-sensitive (vs tolerant) subjects were enriched in both Agathobacter (P = 0.02) and Cyanobacteria (P = 0.0001). In contrast, fructan-tolerant subjects were enriched in three genera from the Clostridia class. Comparing the fructan vs maltodextrin diet, fructan-sensitive subjects had a significantly increased relative abundance of Bifidobacterium (P = 0.02) while fructan-tolerant subjects had increased Anaerostipes (P = 0.03) during the fructan diet. Only fructan-sensitive subjects had a trend towards increased predicted β-fructofuranosidase during the fructan vs maltodextrin diet.

Conclusions: Fructan-sensitive children with IBS have distinct gut microbiome signatures. These microbiome signatures differ both at baseline and in response to a fructan challenge.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Child
  • Feces
  • Fructans
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*


  • Fructans