Bacterial Colonization of Colonic Crypt Mucous Gel and Disease Activity in Ulcerative Colitis

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Abstract

Objective:

To optimize total bacterial 16S rRNA quantification in microdissected colonic crypts in healthy controls and patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and to characterize the findings with disease activity.

Background:

Microscopic and molecular techniques have recently converged to allow bacterial enumeration in remote anatomic locations [eg, crypt-associated mucous gel (CAMG)]. The aims of this study were to combine laser capture microdissection (LCM) and 16S rRNA–based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to determine total bacterial copy number in CAMG both in health and in UC and to characterize the findings with disease activity.

Methods:

LCM was used to microdissect CAMG from colonic mucosal biopsies from controls (n = 20) and patients with acute (n = 10) or subacute (n = 10) UC. Pan-bacterial 16S rRNA copy number per millimeter square in samples from 6 locations across the large bowel was obtained by qPCR using Desulfovibrio desulfuricans as a reference strain. Copy numbers were correlated with the UC disease activity index (UCDAI) and the simple clinical colitis activity index (SCCAI).

Results:

Bacterial colonization of CAMG was detectable in all groups. Copy numbers were significantly reduced in acute UC. In subacute colitis, there was a positive correlation between copy number and UCDAI and SCCAI in the ascending, transverse and sigmoid colon.

Conclusions:

This study describes a sensitive method of quantitatively assessing bacterial colonization of the colonic CAMG. A positive correlation was found between CAMG bacterial load and subacute disease activity in UC, whereas detectable bacterial load was reduced in acute UC.

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