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Summary

Background  Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analyses are powerful tools to assess the diversity of complex microbiota. T-RFLPs permit rapid comparisons of microbiota from many samples.

Aim  To perform T-RFLP analyses of faecal microbiota in Crohn’s disease (CD) patients to investigate potential alterations in faecal microbial communities and furthermore to analyse the effects of elemental diet on faecal microbiota profiles.

Methods  Thirty-four patients with CD and 30 healthy individuals were enrolled in the study. DNA was extracted from stool samples and 16S rRNA genes were amplified by PCR. PCR products were digested with BslI restriction enzymes and T-RF lengths were determined.

Results  Faecal microbial communities were classified into seven clusters. Almost all healthy individuals (28/30) were included in cluster I, II and III, but the majority of CD patients (25/34) could be divided into another four clusters (cluster IV–VII). Prediction of bacteria based on the BslI-digested T-RFLP database showed a significant decrease in Clostridium cluster IV, Clostridium cluster XI and subcluster XIVa in CD patients. In contrast, Bacteroides significantly increased in CD patients. Significant increases in Enterobacteriales were also observed in CD patients. Furthermore, elemental diets modulated faecal bacterial communities in CD patients.

Conclusions  Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses showed that the diversity of faecal microbiota in patients with CD differed from that of healthy individuals. Furthermore, elemental diets modulated faecal microbiota composition, and this effect may be involved in mechanisms of clinical effects of elemental diet.