Oral versus intravenous iron replacement therapy distinctly alters the gut microbiota and metabolome in patients with IBD

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Abstract

Objective

Iron deficiency is a common complication in patients with IBD and oral iron therapy is suggested to exacerbate IBD symptoms. We performed an open-labelled clinical trial to compare the effects of per oral (PO) versus intravenous (IV) iron replacement therapy (IRT).

Design

The study population included patients with Crohn's disease (CD; N=31), UC (N=22) and control subjects with iron deficiency (non-inflamed, NI=19). After randomisation, participants received iron sulfate (PO) or iron sucrose (IV) over 3 months. Clinical parameters, faecal bacterial communities and metabolomes were assessed before and after intervention.

Results

Both PO and IV treatments ameliorated iron deficiency, but higher ferritin levels were observed with IV. Changes in disease activity were independent of iron treatment types. Faecal samples in IBD were characterised by marked interindividual differences, lower phylotype richness and proportions of Clostridiales. Metabolite analysis also showed separation of both UC and CD from control anaemic participants. Major shifts in bacterial diversity occurred in approximately half of all participants after IRT, but patients with CD were most susceptible. Despite individual-specific changes in phylotypes due to IRT, PO treatment was associated with decreased abundances of operational taxonomic units assigned to the species Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Ruminococcus bromii, Dorea sp. and Collinsella aerofaciens. Clear IV-specific and PO-specific fingerprints were evident at the level of metabolomes, with changes affecting cholesterol-derived host substrates.

Conclusions

Shifts in gut bacterial diversity and composition associated with iron treatment are pronounced in IBD participants. Despite similar clinical outcome, oral administration differentially affects bacterial phylotypes and faecal metabolites compared with IV therapy.

Trial registration number

clinicaltrial.gov (NCT01067547).

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