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Functional abdominal pain and discomfort (IBS) is not associated with faecal microbiota composition in the general population
  1. Fabian Frost1,
  2. Tim Kacprowski2,3,
  3. Malte Christoph Rühlemann4,
  4. Andre Franke4,
  5. Femke-Anouska Heinsen4,
  6. Uwe Völker2,
  7. Henry Völzke5,
  8. Ali A Aghdassi1,
  9. Julia Mayerle1,6,
  10. Frank U Weiss1,
  11. Georg Homuth2,
  12. Markus M Lerch1
  1. 1 Department of Medicine A, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Functional Genomics, Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
  3. 3 Chair of Experimental Bioinformatics, TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany
  4. 4 Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  5. 5 Institute for Community Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
  6. 6 Department of Medicine II, University Hospital, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Markus M Lerch, Department of Medicine A, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald 17475, Germany; lerch{at}

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We read with interest the study by Simrén et al 1 addressing the correlation between GI symptoms and functional GI disorders (eg, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)) and the comment by Hadizadeh et al 2 reporting abdominal pain sensation to be associated with an altered faecal microbiota composition. Hadizadeh et al 2 propose from their study on 159 individuals that their results may allow to develop novel tools for diagnosis and management of IBS and dyspepsia. We tried to replicate their findings in the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP-Trend)3 using stool samples from 906 volunteers to analyse faecal microbiota composition and diversity by 16S rRNA gene sequencing as previously described.4 Twenty participants were excluded for incomplete phenotypic data or antibiotic treatment at sample collection. Of the remaining 886 individuals (age: 51 years (40–61), median (first to third quartiles); female: 56.4%), 172 (19.4%) reported abdominal pain or discomfort for at least 3 days per month during the last 3 months (cases), whereas 714 did not (controls). To estimate …

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  • Contributors Planning and concept of study: MML, AF, HV, AAA, FUW, JM. Acquisition of data: FF, TK, FUW, MCR, F-AH. Statistical analysis: FF, TK, MCR. Data interpretation and manuscript revision: FF, TK, MCR, AF, F-AH, UV, HV, AAA, JM, FUW, GH, MML. Writing committee: FF, MML.

  • Funding SHIP is part of the Research Network Community Medicine of the University Medicine Greifswald, which is supported by the German Federal State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Local institutional review board, University Medicine Greifswald, Germany, registration numbers BB122/13 and BB174/15.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All samples and corresponding phenotypic data were obtained from the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) and can be accessed through a data access application form (