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Bacterial Oncotraits Rather than Spatial Organization Are Associated with Dysplasia

Bacterial Oncotraits Rather than Spatial Organization Are Associated with Dysplasia in Ulcerative Colitis

Carlijn E Bruggeling, Maarten te Groen, Daniel R Garza, Famke van Heeckeren tot Overlaer, Joyce P M Krekels, Basma-Chick Sulaiman, Davy Karel, Athreyu Rulof, Anne R Schaaphok, Daniel L A H Hornikx, Iris D Nagtegaal, Bas E Dutilh, Frank Hoentjen, Annemarie Boleij

Published on 27 May 2023, Journal of Crohn's and Colitis


Background and Aims Colonic bacterial biofilms are frequently present in ulcerative colitis [UC] and may increase dysplasia risk through pathogens expressing oncotraits. This prospective cohort study aimed to determine [1] the association of oncotraits and longitudinal biofilm presence with dysplasia risk in UC, and [2] the relation of bacterial composition with biofilms and dysplasia risk.

Methods Faeces and left- and right-sided colonic biopsies were collected from 80 UC patients and 35 controls. Oncotraits [FadA of Fusobacterium, BFT of Bacteroides fragilis, colibactin [ClbB] and Intimin [Eae] of Escherichia coli] were assessed in faecal DNA with multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction [qPCR]. Biopsies were screened for biofilms [n = 873] with 16S rRNA fluorescent in situ hybridiation. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing [n = 265], and ki67-immunohistochemistry were performed. Associations were determined with a mixed-effects regression model.

Results Biofilms were highly prevalent in UC patients [90.8%] with a median persistence of 3 years (interquartile range [IQR] 2–5 years). Biofilm-positive biopsies showed increased epithelial hypertrophy [p = 0.025] and a reduced Shannon diversity independent of disease status [p = 0.015], but were not significantly associated with dysplasia in UC: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.63–3.40. In contrast, ClbB independently associated with dysplasia [aOR 7.16, 95% CI 1.75–29.28], and FadA and Fusobacteriales were associated with a decreased dysplasia risk in UC [aOR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06–0.83, p <0.01].

Conclusions Biofilms are a hallmark of UC; however, because of their high prevalence are a poor biomarker for dysplasia. In contrast, colibactin presence and FadA absence independently associate with dysplasia in UC and might therefore be valuable biomarkers for future risk stratification and intervention strategies.


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