Age and Fecal Microbial Strain-Specific Differences in Patients With Spondyloarthritis

Matthew L. Stoll; Pamela F. Weiss; Jennifer E. Weiss; Peter A. Nigrovic; Barbara S. Edelheit; S. Lou Bridges Jr; Maria I. Danila; Charles H. Spencer; Marilynn G. Punaro; Kenneth Schikler; Andreas Reiff; Ranjit Kumar; Randy Q. Cron; Casey D. Morrow; Elliot J. Lefkowitz


Arthritis Res Ther. 2018;20(14) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background Prior studies have demonstrated abnormalities in the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota in pediatric and adult patients with spondyloarthritis (SpA). In particular, diminished fecal abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and abnormalities in both directions in the abundance of the Bacteroides genus have been identified.

Methods We obtained fecal specimens from 30 children with treatment-naïve enthesitis-related arthritis (ERA) and 19 healthy controls, as well as specimens from 11 adult patients with longstanding SpA and 10 adult healthy controls. All of the samples underwent sequencing of the 16S ribosomal DNA. A subset of the pediatric fecal samples was subjected to shotgun metagenomics sequencing.

Results ERA patients had decreased abundance of the anti-inflammatory F. prausnitzii A2-165 strain (41 ± 28% versus 54 ± 20% of all sequences matching F. prausnitzii, p = 0.084) and an increased abundance of the control F. prausnitzii L2/6 strain (28 ± 28% versus 15 ± 15%, p = 0.038). Similar trends were observed in adults with longstanding SpA (n = 11) and controls (n = 10). In contrast, the fecal abundance of Bacteroides fragilis was increased in ERA subjects (2.0 ± 4.0% versus 0.45 ± 0.7% of all sequences, p = 0.045), yet was diminished in adult subjects (0.2 ± % versus 1.0 ± % of all sequences, p = 0.106). Shotgun metagenomics sequencing of the fecal DNA in the pediatric subjects revealed diminished coverage of the butanoate pathway (abundance normalized to controls of 1 ± 0.48 versus 0.72 ± 0.33 in ERA, p = 0.037).

Conclusions The anti-inflammatory F. prausnitzii A2-165 strain appears to be depleted in both pediatric and adult SpA. In contrast, B. fragilis may be depleted in adult disease yet abundant in pediatric SpA, suggesting developmental effects on the immune system.