• 16S ribosomal DNA;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • intestinal microbiota;
  • mucosa-associated microbiota;
  • temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis


Background: The mucosa-associated microbiota, being very close to the inflammatory process associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may have a pathogenic role. We used a culture-independent method to analyze the mucosa-associated microbiota in IBD patients at various points of the distal digestive tract.

Methods: Thirty-five patients (20 with Crohn's disease, 11 with ulcerative colitis, and 4 controls) underwent colonoscopy. Biopsies (n = 126) were taken from 4 sites: the ileum, right colon, left colon, and rectum. Fecal samples were also obtained from 7 individuals. Temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TTGE) of 16S rDNA was used to evaluate dominant species diversity. TTGE profiles were compared using software that measures the degree of similarity.

Results: In a given individual, the overall similarity percentage between the 4 segments of the distal digestive tract was 94.7 ± 4.0%, regardless of clinical status. The average similarity of all profiles for a given segment was 59.3 ± 18.3% in the overall population. Dendrogram analysis showed that TTGE profiles did not cluster with clinical status. Differences were observed between the dominant fecal microbiota and the mucosa-associated microbiota of all 4 sites, with similarity percentages less than 92%.

Conclusions: These results confirm that the dominant species differ between the mucosa-associated and fecal microbiota. They also show that, in a given individual, the microbiota is relatively stable along the distal digestive tract, showing a slight evolution in dominant species diversity from the ileum to the rectum, in both healthy subjects and patients with IBD.