Plasticity of the adult human small intestinal stoma microbiota

Cell Host Microbe. 2022 Dec 14;30(12):1773-1787.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2022.10.002. Epub 2022 Oct 31.


The human distal small intestine (ileum) has a distinct microbiota, but human studies investigating its composition and function have been limited by the inaccessibility of the ileum without purging and/or deep intubation. We investigated inherent instability, temporal dynamics, and the contribution of fed and fasted states using stoma samples from cured colorectal cancer patients as a non-invasive access route to the otherwise inaccessible small and large intestines. Sequential sampling of the ileum before and after stoma formation indicated that ileostoma microbiotas represented that of the intact small intestine. Ileal and colonic stoma microbiotas were confirmed as distinct, and two types of instability in ileal host-microbial relationships were observed: inter-digestive purging followed by the rapid postprandial blooming of bacterial biomass and sub-strain appearance and disappearance within individual taxa after feeding. In contrast to the relative stability of colonic microbiota, the human small intestinal microbiota biomass and its sub-strain composition can be highly dynamic.

Keywords: bacterial biomass; colostomy; ileostomy; metabolomics; microbial instability; small intestinal microbiota; sub-strains.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Ileum / microbiology
  • Intestine, Small
  • Microbiota*