Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are suggested to have an altered intestinal microenvironment. We therefore aimed to determine the intestinal microenvironment profile, based on faecal microbiota and metabolites, and the potential link to symptoms in IBS patients. The faecal microbiota was evaluated by the GA-mapTM dysbiosis test, and tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) was used for faecal metabolomic profiling in patients with IBS and healthy subjects. Symptom severity was assessed using the IBS Severity Scoring System and anxiety and depression were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. A principal component analysis based on faecal microbiota (n = 54) and metabolites (n = 155) showed a clear separation between IBS patients (n = 40) and healthy subjects (n = 18). Metabolites were the main driver of this separation. Additionally, the intestinal microenvironment profile differed between IBS patients with constipation (n = 15) and diarrhoea (n = 11), while no clustering was detected in subgroups of patients according to symptom severity or anxiety. Furthermore, ingenuity pathway analysis predicted amino acid metabolism and several cellular and molecular functions to be altered in IBS patients. Patients with IBS have a distinct faecal microbiota and metabolite profile linked to bowel habits. Intestinal microenvironment profiling, based on faecal microbiota and metabolites, may be considered as a future non-invasive diagnostic tool, alongside providing valuable insights into the pathophysiology of IBS.
Keywords: intestinal microenvironment; irritable bowel syndrome; microbial metabolites; microbiota; pathophysiology.