Gut 69 (6) 1076-1084 [2020-06-00; online 2019-10-10]
The ethiopathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown. While a link to the gut microbiome is postulated, the heterogeneity of the healthy gut makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. We aimed to describe the faecal and mucosa-associated microbiome (MAM) and health correlates on a community cohort of healthy and IBS individuals with no colonoscopic findings. The PopCol study recruited a random sample of 3556 adults; 745 underwent colonoscopy. IBS was defined by Rome IV criteria and organic disease excluded. 16S rRNA gene sequencing was conducted on sigmoid biopsy samples from 376 representative individuals (63 IBS cases) and faecal samples from 185 individuals (32 IBS cases). While sigmoid MAM was dominated by Lachnospiraceae, faeces presented a higher relative abundance of Ruminococcaceae. Microbial richness in MAM was linearly correlated to that in faeces from the same individual (R²=0.255, p<3E-11) as was diversity (R²=0.06, p=0.0022). MAM diversity decreased with increasing body mass index (BMI; Pearson's r=-0.1, p=0.08) and poorer self-rated health (r=-0.15, p=0.007), but no other health correlates. Faecal microbiome diversity was correlated to stool consistency (r=-0.16, p=0.043). Several taxonomic groups were correlated to age, BMI, depression and self-reported health, including Coprococcus catus associated with lower levels of depression (r=-0.003, p=0.00017). The degree of heterogeneity observed between IBS patients is higher than that observed between healthy individuals. No distinct microbial signature was observed in IBS. Individuals presenting with low self-rated health or high BMI have lower gut microbiome richness.