In pediatric Crohn’s disease, a Clostridioides difficile infection detected within the first year after diagnosis is associated with a shorter time to first bowel resection surgery, according to a study that included both a retrospective and prospective analysis. The researchers also found evidence that changes in methionine biosynthesis and depletion of beneficial bacteria may contribute to risk of surgery.
C. difficile infection (CDI) disproportionately affects individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Pediatric IBD patients have a 34% risk of recurrent CDI infection, compared with 7.5% in the general population. Previous research found that adults with ulcerative colitis and CDI are at more risk of colectomy, but the finding has not been replicated in children.
In a study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, researchers led by Jennifer Hellmann and Lee Denson of the University of Cincinnati conducted a single-center retrospective analysis of 75 pediatric Crohn’s disease patients. They also conducted a prospective study of 70 pediatric Crohn’s disease patients, using shotgun metagenome sequencing to examine the relationship between microbiota composition and C. difficile carriage or surgery history.
Nineteen percent of patients tested positive for C. difficile. Use of antibiotics was associated with C. difficile (odds ratio, 7.9; P = .02). Of patients who underwent C. difficile testing in the first year, 23 went on to have surgery: 21% who were C. difficile negative required surgery, compared with 67% of those who were positive (hazard ratio, 4.4; P = .0003). The mean time to surgery was 527 days for C. difficile–positive patients and 1,268 days for those who were negative.
A multivariate regression analysis on 54 patients with complete data sets showed that the presence of C. difficile was associated with increased risk of surgery (OR, 16.2; P = .0006). When the analysis was run on all 73 patients, using null value for missing data, the results were similar (OR, 9.17; P = .008).
Shotgun sequencing found that 47 of 114 bacterial species that were associated with the presence of C. difficile were also associated with prior surgery for Crohn’s disease. Species included some that may play a role in mucosal homeostasis, such as Bifidobacterium breve and several Alistipes and Ruminococcus species. That suggests that a reduction in the numbers of these taxa may be associated with C. difficile presence and surgical risk.
The researchers also found that methionine synthesis pathways were depressed in C. difficile–positive and surgery patients. Methionine may bolster antioxidant capacity and improve villus morphology. IBD patients with dysbiosis and those experiencing Crohn’s disease exacerbations have been shown to have decreased methionine pathway activity, suggesting methionine biosynthesis changes have clinical relevance.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
SOURCE: Hellmann J et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2020. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izz263.
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