The cultivable microbiota of the human distal ileum

Bladder Cancer

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 Aug 21:S1198-743X(20)30504-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2020.08.021. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: The existing literature on the microbiota of the ileum is inconsistent. To further characterize the microbiota, we analyzed samples obtained directly from resected ileums´ used for urinary diversion after radical cystectomy.

METHODS: We included 150 patients with bladder cancer operated from March 2016 to March 2019. Samples obtained by rubbing a swab against the ileal mucosa 25 cm from the ileocecal valve were cultivated at the local laboratory. Microbial colonies were identified by Maldi-TOF mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: The microbial density of the distal ileum was low. Among our samples, 79% (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 71%, 84%) harbored less than 1.6 x 104 CFU/mL, whereas 36% (95% CI 28%, 44%) harbored less than 1.600 CFU/mL. The flora was dominated by viridans streptococci, Candida, Actinomyces, Rothia and Lactobacillus species. Colon-related bacteria i.e. strict anaerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriales and enterococci, were recovered from 14% of the samples. Constipation was associated with increased recovery of colon-related bacteria. Antibiotic treatment prior to surgical procedures did not affect culture results. Increased age was significantly associated with more substantial fungal growth and use of proton pump inhibitors seemed to increase both bacterial and fungal growth.

CONCLUSIONS: The microbiota of the human distal ileum is sparse and differs significantly from the colonic microbiota both quantitatively and by composition. These findings contradict recent metagenomics studies based on samples collected by retrograde colonoscopy and emphasize the crucial importance of adequate sampling techniques.