The microbiome has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of allergic and inflammatory diseases. The mucosa affected by eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is composed of a stratified squamous epithelia and contains intraepithelial eosinophils. To date, no studies have identified the esophageal microbiome in patients with EoE or the impact of treatment on these organisms. The aim of this study was to identify the esophageal microbiome in EoE and determine whether treatments change this profile. We hypothesized that clinically relevant alterations in bacterial populations are present in different forms of esophagitis.
In this prospective study, secretions from the esophageal mucosa were collected from children and adults with EoE, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and normal mucosa using the Esophageal String Test (EST). Bacterial load was determined using quantitative PCR. Bacterial communities, determined by 16S rRNA gene amplification and 454 pyrosequencing, were compared between health and disease.
Samples from a total of 70 children and adult subjects were examined. Bacterial load was increased in both EoE and GERD relative to normal subjects. In subjects with EoE, load was increased regardless of treatment status or degree of mucosal eosinophilia compared with normal. Haemophilus was significantly increased in untreated EoE subjects as compared with normal subjects. Streptococcus was decreased in GERD subjects on proton pump inhibition as compared with normal subjects.
Diseases associated with mucosal eosinophilia are characterized by a different microbiome from that found in the normal mucosa. Microbiota may contribute to esophageal inflammation in EoE and GERD.