Microbial dysbiosis in spouses of ulcerative colitis patients: any clues to disease pathogenesis?
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A number of alterations have been found within the gut microbial profile of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases when compared with the healthy population; however, it is unclear whether such dysbiosis is the cause or simply the consequence of the disease state. In ulcerative colitis, the environment seems to play a crucial role in disease etiology since monozygotic twins show a concordance rate of only 8%-10% though it is unclear whether it does so by acting through the microbiome. In this study, the authors investigated the influence of cohabitation on the gut microbial community in healthy partners of ulcerative colitis patients - with the intent of clarifying some of these issues. As expected, ulcerative colitis patients had a significant dysbiosis and alterations in microbial metabolism. Interestingly, these abnormal fecal microbial communities were relatively similar amongst patients and their spouses. Thus, this study shows that the microbial profile might be partially transferred from ulcerative colitis patients to healthy individuals. Whether this finding impacts on disease development or has any implication for the role of the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease etiology remains to be determined.