Reduced Mucosa-associated Butyricicoccus Activity in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis Correlates with Aberrant Claudin-1 Expression

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Abstract

Background and Aims:

Butyricicoccus is a butyrate-producing clostridial cluster IV genus whose numbers are reduced in the stool of ulcerative colitis [UC] patients. Conditioned medium of Butyricicoccus [B.] pullicaecorum prevents tumour necrosis factor alpha [TNFα]-induced increase in epithelial permeability in vitro. Since butyrate influences intestinal barrier integrity, we further investigated the relationship between the abundance of mucosa-associated Butyricicoccus and the expression of butyrate-regulated tight junction [TJ] genes.

Methods:

Tight junction protein 1 [TJP1], occludin [OCLN], claudin-1 [CLDN1], and Butyricicoccus 16S rRNA expression was analysed in a collection of colonic biopsies of healthy controls and UC patients with active disease. The effect of butyrate and B. pullicaecorum conditioned medium on TJ gene expression was investigated in TNFα-stimulated Caco-2 monolayers and inflamed mucosal biopsies of UC patients.

Results:

TJP1 expression was significantly decreased in inflamed UC mucosa, whereas CLDN1 mRNA levels were increased. OCLN did not differ significantly between the groups. Mucosa-associated Butyricicoccus 16S rRNA transcripts were reduced in active UC patients compared with healthy controls. Interestingly, Butyricicoccus activity negatively correlated with CLDN1 expression. Butyrate reversed the inflammation-induced increase of CLDN1 protein levels, and stimulation of inflamed UC biopsies with B. pullicaecorum conditioned medium normalized CLDN1 mRNA levels.

Conclusions:

Butyricicoccus is a mucosa-associated bacterial genus under-represented in colonic mucosa of patients with active UC, whose activity inversely correlates with CLDN1 expression. Butyrate and B. pullicaecorum conditioned medium reduce CLDN1 expression, supporting its use as a pharmabiotic preserving epithelial TJ integrity.

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