Metagenomic profiling of fecal-derived bacterial membrane vesicles in crohn’s disease patients

Nader Kameli, Heike E. F. Becker, Tessa Welbers, Daisy M. A. E. Jonkers, John Penders, Paul Savelkoul, Frank R. Stassen

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In the past, many studies suggested a crucial role for dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in the etiology of Crohn’s disease (CD). However, despite being important players in host–bacteria interaction, the role of bacterial membrane vesicles (MV) has been largely overlooked in the pathogenesis of CD. In this study, we addressed the composition of the bacterial and MV composition in fecal samples of CD patients and compared this to the composition in healthy individuals. Methods: Fecal samples from six healthy subjects (HC) in addition to twelve CD patients (six active, six remission) were analyzed in this study. Fecal bacterial membrane vesicles (fMVs) were isolated by a combination of ultrafiltration and size exclusion chromatography. DNA was obtained from the fMV fraction, the pellet of dissolved feces as bacterial DNA (bDNA), or directly from feces as fecal DNA (fDNA). The fMVs were characterized by nanoparticle tracking analysis and cryo-electron microscopy. Amplicon sequencing of 16s rRNA V4 hypervariable gene regions was conducted to assess microbial composition of all fractions. Results: Beta-diversity analysis showed that the microbial community structure of the fMVs was significantly different from the microbial profiles of the fDNA and bDNA. However, no differences were observed in microbial composition between fDNA and bDNA. The microbial richness of fMVs was significantly decreased in CD patients compared to HC, and even lower in active patients. Profiling of fDNA and bDNA demonstrated that Firmicutes was the most dominant phylum in these fractions, while in fMVs Bacteroidetes was dominant. In fMV, several families and genera belonging to Firmicutes and Proteobacteria were significantly altered in CD patients when compared to HC. Conclusion: The microbial alterations of MVs in CD patients particularly in Firmicutes and Proteobacteria suggest a possible role of MVs in host-microbe symbiosis and induction or progression of inflammation in CD pathogenesis. Yet, the exact role for these fMV in the pathogenesis of the disease needs to be elucidated in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2795
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Bacterial membrane vesicles
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Gut microbiota
  • Metagenomics

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