BACKGROUND: Faecalibacterium prausnitzii comprises 2 phylogroups, whose abundance in healthy and diseased gut and in conjunction with Escherichia coli has not yet been studied. This work aims to determine the contribution of F. prausnitzii phylogroups I and II in intestinal disease and to assess their potential diagnostic usefulness as biomarkers for gut diseases.
METHODS: Total F. prausnitzii, its phylogroups, and E. coli loads were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction targeting the 16S rRNA gene on biopsies from 31 healthy controls (H), 45 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 25 patients with ulcerative colitis, 10 patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and 20 patients with colorectal cancer. Data were normalized to total bacterial counts and analyzed according to patients' disease location and clinical characteristics.
RESULTS: Lower levels of both total F. prausnitzii and phylogroup I were found in subjects with CD, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer (P < 0.001) compared with H subjects. Phylogroup I load was a better biomarker than total F. prausnitzii to discriminate subjects with gut disorders from H. Phylogroup II depletion was observed only in patients with CD (P < 0.001) and can be potentially applied to differentiate ulcerative pancolitis from colonic CD. No statistically significant correlation between E. coli and any of the 2 F. prausnitzii phylogroups was found in any group of patients or by inflammatory bowel disease location. Phylogroup I was lower in active patients with CD, whereas those CD with intestinal resection showed a reduction in phylogroup II. Treatments with mesalazine and immunosuppressants did not result in the recovery of F. prausnitzii phylogroups abundance.
CONCLUSIONS: F. prausnitzii phylogroup I was depleted in CD, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer, whereas phylogroup II was specifically reduced in CD. Quantification of F. prausnitzii phylogroups and E. coli may help to identify gut disorders and to classify inflammatory bowel disease location.