Microbiota dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel diseases: in silico investigation of the oxygen hypothesis


Abstract Background Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract in approximately 1.6 million Americans. A signature of IBD is dysbiosis of the gut microbiota marked by a significant reduction of obligate anaerobes and a sharp increase in facultative anaerobes. Numerous experimental studies have shown that IBD is strongly correlated with a decrease of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and an increase of Escherichia coli. One hypothesis is that chronic inflammation induces increased oxygen levels in the gut, which in turn causes an imbalance between obligate and facultative anaerobes. Results To computationally investigate the oxygen hypothesis, we developed a multispecies biofilm model based on genome-scale metabolic reconstructions of F. prausnitzii, E. coli and the common gut anaerobe Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. Application of low bulk oxygen concentrations at the biofilm boundary reproduced experimentally observed behavior characterized by a sharp decrease of F. prausnitzii and a large increase of E. coli, demonstrating that dysbiosis consistent with IBD disease progression could be qualitatively predicted solely based on metabolic differences between the species. A diet with balanced carbohydrate and protein content was predicted to represent a metabolic “sweet spot” that increased the oxygen range over which F. prausnitzii could remain competitive and IBD could be sublimated. Host-microbiota feedback incorporated via a simple linear feedback between the average F. prausnitzii concentration and the bulk oxygen concentration did not substantially change the range of oxygen concentrations where dysbiosis was predicted, but the transition from normal species abundances to severe dysbiosis was much more dramatic and occurred over a much longer timescale. Similar predictions were obtained with sustained antibiotic treatment replacing a sustained oxygen perturbation, demonstrating how IBD might progress over several years with few noticeable effects and then suddenly produce severe disease symptoms. Conclusions The multispecies biofilm metabolic model predicted that oxygen concentrations of ∼1 micromolar within the gut could cause microbiota dysbiosis consistent with those observed experimentally for inflammatory bowel diseases. Our model predictions could be tested directly through the development of an appropriate in vitro system of the three species community and testing of microbiota-host interactions in gnotobiotic mice

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oai:doaj.org/article:5a02cae48a02447cb80a7572bd30d80fLast time updated on 6/4/2019

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