The goal of this study was to determine if fecal metabolite and microbiota profiles can serve as biomarkers of human intestinal diseases, and to uncover possible gut microbe–metabolite associations. We employed proton nuclear magnetic resonance to measure fecal metabolites of healthy children and those diagnosed with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). Metabolite levels were associated with fecal microbial abundances. Using several ordination techniques, healthy and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) samples could be distinguished based on the metabolite profiles of fecal samples, and such partitioning was congruent with the microbiota-based sample separation. Measurements of individual metabolites indicated that the intestinal environment in IBS-D was characterized by increased proteolysis, incomplete anaerobic fermentation and possible change in methane production. By correlating metabolite levels with abundances of microbial genera, a number of statistically significant metabolite–genus associations were detected in stools of healthy children. No such associations were evident for IBS children. This finding complemented the previously observed reduction in the number of microbe–microbe associations in the distal gut of the same cohort of IBS-D children.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_raymer/89/