Introduction: Children presenting for the first time with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) offer a unique opportunity to study aetiological agents before the confounders of treatment. Microaerophilic bacteria can exploit the ecological niche of the intestinal epithelium; Helicobacter and Campylobacter are previously implicated in IBD pathogenesis. We set out to study these and other microaerophilic bacteria in de-novo paediatric IBD.
Patients and Methods: 100 children undergoing colonoscopy were recruited including 44 treatment naive de-novo IBD patients and 42 with normal colons. Colonic biopsies were subjected to microaerophilic culture with Gram-negative isolates then identified by sequencing. Biopsies were also PCR screened for the specific microaerophilic bacterial groups: Helicobacteraceae, Campylobacteraceae and Sutterella wadsworthensis.
Results: 129 Gram-negative microaerophilic bacterial isolates were identified from 10 genera. The most frequently cultured was S. wadsworthensis (32 distinct isolates). Unusual Campylobacter were isolated from 8 subjects (including 3 C. concisus, 1 C. curvus, 1 C. lari, 1 C. rectus, 3 C. showae). No Helicobacter were cultured. When comparing IBD vs. normal colon control by PCR the prevalence figures were not significantly different (Helicobacter 11% vs. 12%, p = 1.00; Campylobacter 75% vs. 76%, p = 1.00; S. wadsworthensis 82% vs. 71%, p = 0.312).
Conclusions: This study offers a comprehensive overview of the microaerophilic microbiota of the paediatric colon including at IBD onset. Campylobacter appear to be surprisingly common, are not more strongly associated with IBD and can be isolated from around 8% of paediatric colonic biopsies. S. wadsworthensis appears to be a common commensal. Helicobacter species are relatively rare in the paediatric colon.