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Increased Expression of Colonic Mucosal Melatonin in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome Correlated with Gut Dysbiosis

By Ben Wang, Shiwei Zhu, Zuojing Liu, Hui Wei, Lu Zhang, Fei Pei, Meibo He, Jindong Zhang, Qinghua Sun, Liping Duan

Posted 06 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.03.20030635

Dysregulation of the gut microbiota/gut hormone axis contributes to the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Melatonin plays a beneficial role in gut motility and immunity. However, altered expression of local mucosal melatonin in IBS and its relationship with the gut microbiota remain unclear. Therefore, we aimed to detect the colonic melatonin levels and microbiota profiles in patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) and explore their relationship in germ-free (GF) rats and BON-1 cells. Thirty-two IBS-D patients and twenty-eight healthy controls (HC) were recruited. Fecal specimens from IBS-D patients and HCs were separately transplanted into GF rats by gavage. The levels of colon mucosal melatonin were assessed by immunohistochemical methods, and fecal microbiota communities were analyzed using 16S rDNA sequencing. The effect of butyrate on melatonin synthesis in BON-1 cells was evaluated by ELISA. Melatonin levels were significantly increased in IBS-D patients compared with HC and were significantly negatively correlated with visceral sensitivity in IBS-D patients. GF rats inoculated with fecal microbiota from IBS-D patients had high colonic melatonin levels. Butyrate-producing Clostridium cluster XIVa species, such as Roseburia species and Lachnospira species, were positively related to colonic mucosal melatonin expression. Butyrate significantly increased melatonin secretion in BON-1 cells. Increased melatonin expression may be an adaptive protective mechanism in the development of IBS-D. Moreover, some Clostridium cluster XIVa species could increase melatonin expression via butyrate production. Modulation of the gut hormone/gut microbiota axis offers a promising target of interest for IBS in the future.

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