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Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2004 Sep;5(2):59-64.

Comparative composition of bacteria in the human intestinal microflora during remission and active ulcerative colitis.

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Food Microbial Sciences Unit, School of Food Biosciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 226, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK.


Ulcerative colitis is a severe, relapsing and remitting disease of the human large intestine characterised by inflammation of the mucosa and submucosa. The main site of disease is the sigmoid/rectal region of the large bowel but the aetiology remains unknown. There is considerable evidence to indicate that the components of the resident colonic microflora can play an important role in initiation of the disease. The present study was aimed at characterising the faecal microflora of ulcerative colitis patients in remission and active phases to determine profile differences. Faecal samples were obtained from 12 patients, 6 with active colitis and 6 in remission. The samples were analysed for populations of lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, clostridia, bacteroides, sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and total bacteria using culture independent fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). Lactobacillus-specific denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) was then performed to compare the species present. Numbers of lactobacilli were significantly lower (p<0.05) during the active phase of the disease but the other populations tested did not differ. DGGE analysis revealed that Lactobacillus salivarus, Lactobacillus manihotivorans and Pediococcus acidilactici were present in remission, but not during active inflammation. These results imply that a reduction in intestinal Lactobacillus species may be important in the initiation of ulcerative colitis.

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