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DOI: 10.3390/ph15070850; PMCID: PMC9317548


Manipulation of the microbiome is a rational treatment strategy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Compared to the colon and terminal ileum (TI), understanding of the microbial composition in the duodenum is sparse. This gap in knowledge is especially significant for children with Crohn's disease (CD) because the prevalence of duodenal CD is higher in children than in adults. Our aim was to characterize the bacterial composition of the mucosally-adherent duodenal microbiome in children with and without CD as a first step toward development of targeted IBD treatment strategies at this disease location. Fresh-frozen mucosal biopsies were obtained from the duodenum and TI of children with treatment-naïve CD and age- and sex-matched controls. Extracted DNA was analyzed for sequence variation in the 16S ribosomal RNA bacterial gene region V4 (Novogene; Beijing, China). Bacterial relative abundance, alpha and beta composition, and diversity, were compared across duodenal and TI samples from the controls and CD groups with and without chronic active inflammation (118 samples from 73 children total; approx. 50% CD), using UniFrac dissimilarity coefficients (α < 0.05), Linear Discriminant Analysis Effect Size (LEfSe) analysis (LDA score ≥ 2), and Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) analysis. The relationships between bacterial abundance, sex, age, concomitant medication use, and villous length were assessed. The microbial composition in the duodenum was significantly different from the TI in the control population(R-value = 0.558, p = 0.001) and in children with active CD (R-value = 0.301, p = 0.001). Significant differences in bacterial abundance were noted between the control and CD duodena (LDA > 4). The duodenum of children without CD was characterized by increased abundance in Pseudomonodales, whereas the actively inflamed duodenum in CD was characterized by increased abundance of Bacteroidales, specifically the family Prevotellaceae. This trend is opposite of previously published observations of microbial composition in the TI, where active inflammation was associated with a relative decrease in the abundance of Bacteroidetes and an increase in Proteobacteria, including Pseudomonadales. No statistically significant correlations were noted between abundance and age, sex, concomitant medication use or villous length, except for Bacteroidetes, which significantly decreased in abundance in the TI with age (p = 0.048). The pediatric duodenal microbiome is distinct from the TI and characterized by an increased abundance of Pseudomonodales and Spirochetes in healthy children, and an increased abundance of Bacteroidales in active CD patients.

Journal Title

Pharmaceuticals (Basel)





First Page



Crohn’s disease; duodenum; inflammatory bowel disease; microbiome; pediatric; small intestine


Grant support

This research was partly funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, grant number 5K23DK115827-03; VS, PI. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Publisher's Link: