Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a common indication for liver transplantation (LT). Up to 25% of patients experience recurrence of PSC (rPSC) after LT, which is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. To date, it is not possible to predict which patients are at risk for rPSC. The aetiology of PSC is complex and is speculated to involve translocation of intestinal bacteria to the liver, because of its frequent co-occurrence with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Here, we investigate whether the mucosal intestinal microbiome of PSC patients (n = 97) at time of first LT can identify those patients who will develop rPSC. 16S gene sequencing of bacterial DNA isolated from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded biopsies showed that PSC patients with Crohn’s disease (n = 15) have a reduced microbial diversity and that inflammation of the mucosa is associated with beta-diversity changes and feature differences. No differences in alpha- or beta diversity were observed between patients with rPSC (n = 14) and without rPSC (n = 83). However, many over-represented bacterial features were detected in patients with rPSC, while surprisingly, those without recurrence of disease were characterized by an increased presence of the Gammaproteobacteria Shigella. This pilot study warrants further investigation into bacterial differences between rPSC and non-rPSC patients.

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Transplant International
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Visseren, T., Fuhler, G., Erler, N., Nossent, Y.R.A. (Yoena Roos Anna), Metselaar, H., IJzermans, J., … Peppelenbosch, M. (2020). Recurrence of primary sclerosing cholangitis after liver transplantation is associated with specific changes in the gut microbiome pretransplant – a pilot study. Transplant International. doi:10.1111/tri.13692