BACKGROUND: Growing evidence suggests that an altered microbiota composition contributes to the pathogenesis and clinical features in celiac disease (CD). We performed a comparative analysis of the gut microbiota in adulthood CD to evaluate whether: (i) dysbiosis anticipates mucosal lesions, (ii) gluten-free diet restores eubiosis, (iii) refractory CD has a peculiar microbial signature, and (iv) salivary and fecal communities overlap the mucosal one.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study where a total of 52 CD patients, including 13 active CD, 29 treated CD, 4 refractory CD, and 6 potential CD, were enrolled in a tertiary center together with 31 controls. A 16S rRNA-based amplicon metagenomics approach was applied to determine the microbiota structure and composition of salivary, duodenal mucosa, and stool samples, followed by appropriate bioinformatic analyses.
RESULTS: A reduction of both α- and β-diversity in CD, already evident in the potential form and achieving nadir in refractory CD, was evident. Taxonomically, mucosa displayed a significant abundance of Proteobacteria and an expansion of Neisseria, especially in active patients, while treated celiacs showed an intermediate profile between active disease and controls. The saliva community mirrored the mucosal one better than stool.
CONCLUSION: Expansion of pathobiontic species anticipates villous atrophy and achieves the maximal divergence from controls in refractory CD. Gluten-free diet results in incomplete recovery. The overlapping results between mucosal and salivary samples indicate the use of saliva as a diagnostic fluid.