Aim: To study the influence of sulphasalazine treatment on the mucosa-associated bacterial flora of rectal biopsy tissue specimens in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Patients: Twenty-four patients had newly diagnosed active ulcerative colitis; 20 patients had acute relapse of ulcerative colitis (10 not taking maintenance sulphasalazine); (40 patients had quiescent ulcerative colitis; 21 not taking maintenance sulphasalazine). The influence of 3 weeks of sulphasalazine treatment on the mucosa-associated flora was studied in the patients presenting with active disease.
Results: Comparison of patients according to sulphasalazine usage revealed few differences in the mucosal flora. In patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis, Escherichia coli was found at lower counts in patients taking maintenance sulphasalazine; however, this effect was not evident in patients with active disease. Inconsistent changes in other facultatives were seen between the two active disease groups, particularly for a miscellaneous group of unidentified Gram-positive rods. Three patients, all receiving sulphasalazine, were colonized with Clostridium difficile, but this did not appear to influence their disease.
Conclusion: Sulphasalazine treatment in ulcerative colitis causes only minor disturbance to the populations of bacteria colonizing the colorectal mucosa.