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Butyricicoccus pullicaecorum in inflammatory bowel disease
  1. Venessa Eeckhaut1,
  2. Kathleen Machiels2,
  3. Clémentine Perrier2,
  4. Carlos Romero3,
  5. Sofie Maes1,
  6. Bram Flahou1,
  7. Marjan Steppe1,
  8. Freddy Haesebrouck1,
  9. Benedikt Sas4,
  10. Richard Ducatelle1,
  11. Severine Vermeire2,
  12. Filip Van Immerseel1
  1. 1Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Merelbeke, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology, Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID), University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3Department of Animal Science, School of Agricultural Engineering, Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4Centre of Excellence Food2Know, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Professor Filip Van Immerseel, Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Salisburylaan 133, Merelbeke 9820, Belgium; filip.vanimmerseel{at}


Objective Many species within the phylum Firmicutes are thought to exert anti-inflammatory effects. We quantified bacteria belonging to the genus Butyricicoccus in stools of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD). We evaluated the effect of Butyricicoccus pullicaecorum in a rat colitis model and analysed the ability to prevent cytokine-induced increases in epithelial permeability.

Design A genus-specific quantitative PCR was used for quantification of Butyricicoccus in stools from patients with UC or CD and healthy subjects. The effect of B pullicaecorum on trinitrobenzenesulfonic (TNBS)-induced colitis was assessed and the effect of B pullicaecorum culture supernatant on epithelial barrier function was investigated in vitro.

Results The average number of Butyricicoccus in stools from patients with UC and CD in active (UC: 8.61 log10/g stool; CD: 6.58 log10/g stool) and remission phase (UC: 8.69 log10/g stool; CD: 8.38 log10/g stool) was significantly lower compared with healthy subjects (9.32 log10/g stool) and correlated with disease activity in CD. Oral administration of B pullicaecorum resulted in a significant protective effect based on macroscopic and histological criteria and decreased intestinal myeloperoxidase (MPO), tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interleukin (IL)-12 levels. Supernatant of B pullicaecorum prevented the loss of transepithelial resistance (TER) and the increase in IL-8 secretion induced by TNFα and interferon γ (IFN gamma) in a Caco-2 cell model.

Conclusions Patients with inflammatory bowel disease have lower numbers of Butyricicoccus bacteria in their stools. Administration of B pullicaecorum attenuates TNBS-induced colitis in rats and supernatant of B pullicaecorum cultures strengthens the epithelial barrier function by increasing the TER.

  • IBD
  • Probiotics
  • Butyrate
  • Epithelial Barrier
  • Inflammation

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