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The faecal microbiota is distinct in HLA-B27+ ankylosing spondylitis patients versus HLA-B27+ healthy controls

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


  1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), AL, USA.
  2. Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA.
  3. Department of Twin Research, King’s College London (KCL), UK.
  4. Centre for Microbiome Research, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
  5. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas at Houston, TX, USA.
  6. Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, UAB, Birmingham, AL, USA.
  7. Department of Twin Research, King’s College London (KCL), UK.
  8. Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, UK; Genomics England Ltd, London, UK.
  9. Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA.

2023 Vol.41, N°5
PI 1096, PF 1104
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PMID: 36441657 [PubMed]

Received: 12/05/2022
Accepted : 01/09/2022
In Press: 24/11/2022
Published: 03/05/2023


Spondyloarthritis (SpA) results from the interplay between genetic and environmental factors. An emerging modifiable factor is the human intestinal microbiota, which multiple studies in children and adults have shown to be abnormal in SpA patients, including enthesitis related arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). However, HLA-B27 itself appears to impact the contents of the microbiota and is more common in SpA patients versus controls, thus serving as a confounding factor in most comparative studies.
This was a cross-sectional study that evaluated the contents of the faecal microbiota among 29 patients with HLA-B27+ AS and 43 healthy adults who underwent 16S sequencing and genotyping as part of the TwinsUK Programme.
HLA-B27 positive+ patients and healthy controls demonstrated substantial clustering based upon diagnosis. Decreased richness was observed among the AS patients, although measures of evenness were similar. After correction for multiple comparisons, several taxa – including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Coprococcus – were elevated in AS patients compared to controls, even when restricted to female subjects, while Bacteroides fragilis, Ruminococcus, and Akkermansia muciniphila were depleted in AS patients.
Consistent with some previous studies, our study demonstrates in patients with AS associations with Coprococcus, Bacteroides, and Ruminococcus. Other findings, including increased Faecalibacterium, are inconsistent with previous studies and thus potentially underscore the necessity of evaluating HLA-B27 positive controls in studies evaluating the impact of the intestinal microbiota on SpA.


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