The number of Microbiome research studies is exploding: Google scholar lists 17,000 hits for papers on the microbiome published this year so far. Here are some recent gems:
New ME/CFS microbiome study
“Altered Gut Microbiome in ME/CFS Patients”
We characterized the gut bacteria of a cohort of 48 patients with ME/CFS and 36 healthy controls from New York City (via sequencing 16S rRNA genes). All patients fulfilled the Fukuda criteria for diagnosis of CFS. We also measured three markers of inflammation in blood plasma: lipopolysaccharide (LPS), soluble CD14 (sCD14) and lactoferrin (LF)
In both cases and controls, the most represented phyla were Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria.
Statistical analysis revealed significant fewer members of the Bacteroidetes and significantly more members of the Firmicutes in the patient population – also reported in Crohn’s disease and acute ulcerative colitis (both are inflammatory bowel diseases).
In particular, there were fewer butyrate-producer Roseburia faecis in ME/CFS patients
(note: butyrate is a key molecule produced by some gut microbes that helps boost immune tolerance and reduce inflammation. Low levels of butyrate-producing bacteria are suspected to play a critical role in some inflammatory bowel diseases.)
There was an increase of inflammatory Ruminococcus spp. (p < 0.001, q = 0.004) The amounts of inflammatory markers LPS, sCD14 and LF in plasma fell within normal ranges in both patients and controls. Our data do not corroborate prior reports of significantly higher levels of Lactonifactor, Alistipes and Enterococci in the feces of patients.
Subjects with ME/CFS in our cohort have a shift in overall microbial composition in comparison to healthy donors, a finding also characteristic of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Our analyses highlight the contrast between the distribution of anti-inflammatory species, such as Roseburia species, which are more prevalent in healthy individuals, and potentially pro-inflammatory Ruminococcaceae, which are associated with irritable bowel syndrome and found to be more frequent in ME/CFS cases. Despite the differences in gut microbiome, three inflammatory markers did not differ between patients and controls in plasma.
Whether deliberate manipulation of the composition of the gut microbiome in ME/CFS patients may ameliorate symptoms in some patients remains to be investigated.