To elucidate the role of microbiological factors in pouchitis, this study investigated the composition of ileal reservoir microflora, the mucus degrading capacity of bacterial enzymes as well as the pH and the proteolytic activity of pouch effluent. Stool samples were collected from five patients with pouchitis and nine patients without pouchitis. The flora of patients with pouchitis had an increased number of aerobes, a decreased ratio anaerobes to aerobes, less bifidobacteria and anaerobic lactobacilli, more Clostridium perfringens, and several species that were not found in control patients (for example, fungi). Furthermore the pH was significantly higher in patients with pouchitis (median value 6.5) than in control patients (5.4). To find out if the pH might influence the breakdown of intestinal mucus glycoproteins, the activity of glycosidases and proteases, and the degradation of hog gastric mucin by the pouch flora was tested at pH 5.2-7.6. Some glycosidases were inhibited, others were stimulated by a low pH, however, in each sample the proteolytic activity was inhibited for 75% at pH 5.2 compared with pH 6.8 and 7.6. Degradation of hog gastric mucin by the pouch flora was an active process at pH 7.2: within two to four hours of incubation more than half of the mucin was degraded. At pH 5.2 it took twice as long. It is concluded that pouchitis possibly results from instability of the flora in the pouch, which causes homeostasis to disappear (dysbiosis), and the protection of the pouch epithelium by the mucus layer becomes affected by increased activity of bacterial and host derived enzymes.
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