Jordan Axelrad, MD: Role of Infections in Gut Microbiome Signature

Data show patients with IBD and pathogen produced a unique pathogen-specific microbiome.

In a new study presented at the 2021 Digestive Disease Week (DDW) Virtual Meeting, investigators found major differences in the gut microbiome between patients with and without an enteric pathogen and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The team, led by Jordan Axelrad, MD, NYU Langone identified 284 patients in the study with a GI PCR panel positive for enteric pathogens, including C. difficile, E. coli subtypes, norovirus, or no pathogen detected.

They concluded that patients with IBD and a pathogen produced a distinctive pathogen-specific microbiome, which might suggest a unique microbial subset of flares in IBD patients.

In an interview with HCPLive, Axelrad spoke about the risk factors, environmental exposures that may lead to the development of IBD in patients, particularly the role of gastrointestinal pathogens in flares of the disease.

“What we found is that there were not major differences in terms of major diversity in the disease, but what we did see were clear differences in the relative abundance of specific bacteria,” Axelrad said. “Specific types of microbes that were present, yes it is playing a role but not perhaps causing this immense change in the gut microbiome.”

He also spoke on the future research necessary to determine the pathogen's role in the gut microbiome and management of flares in patients with IBD.

“Our steps now are looking at gut microbiome, not just cross sectionally, but also following patients longitudinally to look at changes in recovery patterns in the gut microbiome following an infection,” Axelrad said.