Excessive fecal bile acid (BA) loss causes symptoms in a large proportion of people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, a common functional bowel disorder. This BA diarrhea (BAD) results from increased hepatic synthesis of BAs, with impaired negative feedback regulation by the ileal hormone fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19). In this issue of the JCI, Zhao et al. investigated BA metabolism, including fecal BAs, serum BAs, and FGF19, in patients and controls. They identified associations between fecal bacterial BA metabolism and specific microbiota, especially Clostridium scindens. These findings have been tested in a mouse model using microbiota transplants and antibiotic treatment. This group of organisms has potential as a biomarker for BAD and to be a target for therapy.
Julian R.F. Walters, Julian R. Marchesi