Objective Crohn's disease (CD) is associated with intestinal dysbiosis, altered blood T cell populations, elevated faecal calprotectin (FC) and increased intestinal permeability (IP). CD-associated features present in siblings (increased risk of CD) but not in healthy controls, provide insight into early CD pathogenesis. We aimed to (1) Delineate the genetic, immune and microbiological profile of patients with CD, their siblings and controls and (2) Determine which factors discriminate between groups.
Design Faecal microbiology was analysed by quantitative PCR targeting 16S ribosomal RNA, FC by ELISA, blood T cell phenotype by flow cytometry and IP by differential lactulose-rhamnose absorption in 22 patients with inactive CD, 21 of their healthy siblings and 25 controls. Subject's genotype relative risk was determined by Illumina Immuno BeadChip.
Results Strikingly, siblings shared aspects of intestinal dysbiosis with patients with CD (lower concentrations of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (p=0.048), Clostridia cluster IV (p=0.003) and Roseburia spp. (p=0.09) compared with controls). As in CD, siblings demonstrated a predominance of memory T cells (p=0.002) and elevated naïve CD4 T cell β7 integrin expression (p=0.01) compared with controls. FC was elevated (>50 μg/g) in 8/21 (38%) siblings compared with 2/25 (8%) controls (p=0.028); whereas IP did not differ between siblings and controls. Discriminant function analysis determined that combinations of these factors significantly discriminated between groups (χ2=80.4, df=20, p<0.001). Siblings were separated from controls by immunological and microbiological variables.
Conclusions Healthy siblings of patients with CD manifest immune and microbiological abnormalities associated with CD distinct from their genotype-related risk and provide an excellent model in which to investigate early CD pathogenesis.
- CROHN'S DISEASE
- BACTERIAL PATHOGENESIS
- T LYMPHOCYTES