Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood disorder characterized by persistent symptoms, including visceral pain. Studies have demonstrated oral microbiome differences in inflammatory bowel diseases suggesting the potential of the oral microbiome in the study of non-oral conditions.
In this exploratory study we examine whether differences exist in the oral microbiome of IBS participants and healthy controls, and whether the oral microbiome relates to symptom severity.
The oral buccal mucosal microbiome of 38 participants was characterized using PhyloChip microarrays. The severity of visceral pain was assessed by orally administering a gastrointestinal test solution. Participants self-reported their induced visceral pain. Pain severity was highest in IBS participants (P = 0.0002), particularly IBS-overweight participants (P = 0.02), and was robustly correlated to the abundance of 60 OTUs, 4 genera, 5 families and 4 orders of bacteria (r 2 > 0.4, P < 0.001). IBS-overweight participants showed decreased richness in the phylum Bacteroidetes (P = 0.007) and the genus Bacillus (P = 0.008). Analysis of β-diversity found significant separation of the IBS-overweight group (P < 0.05). Our oral microbial results are concordant with described fecal and colonic microbiome-IBS and -weight associations. Having IBS and being overweight, rather than IBS-subtypes, was the most important factor in describing the severity of visceral pain and variation in the microbiome. Pain severity was strongly correlated to the abundance of many taxa, suggesting the potential of the oral microbiome in diagnosis and patient phenotyping. The oral microbiome has potential as a source of microbial information in IBS.