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Diet-induced remission of Crohn’s disease associated with altered microbial community structure

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at the association of diet, gut microbiome and IBD.


The microbiome has been implicated in the initiation and persistence of inflammatory bowel disease. Despite the fact that diet is one of the most potent modulators of microbiome composition and function and that dietary intervention is the first-line therapy for treating pediatric Crohn’s disease, the relationships between diet-induced remission, enteropathy, and microbiome are poorly understood. Here, we leverage a naturally-occurring canine model of chronic inflammatory enteropathy that exhibits robust remission following nutritional therapy, to perform a longitudinal study that integrates clinical monitoring, 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, metagenomic sequencing, metabolomic profiling, and whole genome sequencing to investigate the relationship between therapeutic diet, microbiome, and disease.


We show that remission induced by a hydrolyzed protein diet is accompanied by alterations in microbial community structure marked by decreased abundance of pathobionts (e.g., Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens), reduced severity of dysbiosis, and increased levels of the secondary bile acids, lithocholic and deoxycholic acid. Physiologic levels of these bile acids inhibited the growth of E. coli and C. perfringens isolates, in vitro. Metagenomic analysis and whole genome sequencing identified the bile acid producer Clostridium hiranonis as elevated after dietary therapy and a likely source of secondary bile acids during remission. When C. hiranonis was administered to mice, levels of deoxycholic acid were preserved and pathology associated with DSS colitis was ameliorated. Finally, a closely related bile acid producer, Clostridium scindens, was associated with diet-induced remission in human pediatric Crohn’s disease.


These data highlight that remission induced by a hydrolyzed protein diet is associated with improved microbiota structure, an expansion of bile acid-producing clostridia, and increased levels of secondary bile acids. Our observations from clinical studies of exclusive enteral nutrition in human Crohn’s disease, along with our in vitro inhibition assays and in vivo studies in mice, suggest that this may be a conserved response to diet therapy with the potential to ameliorate disease. These findings provide insight into diet-induced remission of gastrointestinal disease and could help guide the rational design of more effective therapeutic diets.

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Posted on: September 11 2019

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Crohns & Colitis