Nature Research, Scientific Reports, 1(12), 2022
AbstractIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. Visceral hypersensitivity is thought to be responsible for pain complaints in a subset of patients. In an IBS-like animal model, visceral hypersensitivity was triggered by intestinal fungi, and lower mycobiota α-diversity in IBS patients was accompanied by a shift toward increased presence of Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yet, this shift was observed in hypersensitive as well as normosensitive patients and diversity did not differ between IBS subgroups. The latter suggests that, when a patient changes from hyper- to normosensitivity, the relevance of intestinal fungi is not necessarily reflected in compositional mycobiota changes. We now confirmed this notion by performing ITS1 sequencing on an existing longitudinal set of fecal samples. Since ITS1 methodology does not recognize variations within species, we next focused on heterogeneity within cultured healthy volunteer and IBS-derived C. albicans strains. We observed inter- and intra-individual genomic variation and partial clustering of strains from hypersensitive patients. Phenotyping showed differences related to growth, yeast-to-hyphae morphogenesis and gene expression, specifically of the gene encoding fungal toxin candidalysin. Our investigations emphasize the need for strain-specific cause-and-effect studies within the realm of IBS research.