Healthy cotwins share gut microbiome signatures with their inflammatory bowel disease twins and unrelated patients

Dutch TWIN-IBD consortium and the Dutch Initiative on Crohn and Colitis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND & AIMS: It is currently unclear whether reported changes in the gut microbiome are cause or consequence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Therefore, we studied the gut microbiome of IBD-discordant and -concordant twin pairs, which offers the unique opportunity to assess individuals at increased risk of developing IBD, namely healthy cotwins from IBD-discordant twin pairs.

METHODS: Fecal samples were obtained from 99 twins (belonging to 51 twin pairs), 495 healthy age-, sex- and BMI-matched controls, and 99 unrelated IBD patients. Whole-genome metagenomic shotgun sequencing was performed. Taxonomic and functional (pathways) composition was compared between healthy-cotwins, IBD-twins, unrelated IBD patients, and healthy controls with multivariable, i.e. adjusted for potential confounding, generalized linear models.

RESULTS: No significant differences were observed in the relative abundance of species and pathways between healthy cotwins and their IBD-twins (false discovery rate (FDR)<0.10). Compared to healthy controls, 13, 19, and 18 species, and 78, 105, and 153 pathways were found to be differentially abundant in healthy-cotwins, IBD-twins and unrelated IBD patients, respectively (FDR<0.10). Of these, 8/19 (42.1%) and 1/18 (5.6%) species, and 37/105 (35.2%) and 30/153 (19.6%) pathways overlapped between healthy cotwins and IBD-twins, and healthy cotwins and unrelated IBD patients respectively. Many of the shared species and pathways have previously been associated with IBD. The shared pathways include potentially inflammation-related pathways, for example: an increase in propionate degradation and L-arginine degradation pathways.

CONCLUSIONS: The gut microbiome of healthy cotwins from IBD-discordant twin pairs displays IBD-like signatures. These IBD-like microbiome signatures might precede the onset of IBD. However, longitudinal follow up studies are needed to infer a causal relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Healthy cotwins share gut microbiome signatures with their inflammatory bowel disease twins and unrelated patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this