Carrying asymptomatic gallstones is not associated with changes in intestinal microbiota composition and diversity but cholecystectomy with significant dysbiosis


Gallstone disease affects up to twenty percent of the population in western countries and is a significant contributor to morbidity and health care expenditure. Intestinal microbiota have variously been implicated as either contributing to gallstone formation or to be affected by cholecystectomy. We conducted a large-scale investigation on 404 gallstone carriers, 580 individuals post-cholecystectomy and 984 healthy controls with similar distributions of age, sex, body mass index, smoking habits, and food-frequency-score. All 1968 subjects were recruited from the population-based Study-of-Health-in-Pomerania (SHIP), which includes transabdominal gallbladder ultrasound. Fecal microbiota profiles were determined by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. No significant differences in microbiota composition were detected between gallstone carriers and controls. Individuals post-cholecystectomy exhibited reduced microbiota diversity, a decrease in the potentially beneficial genus Faecalibacterium and an increase in the opportunistic pathogen Escherichia/Shigella. The absence of an association between the gut microbiota and the presence of gallbladder stones suggests that there is no intestinal microbial risk profile increasing the likelihood of gallstone formation. Cholecystectomy, on the other hand, is associated with distinct microbiota changes that have previously been implicated in unfavorable health effects and may not only contribute to gastrointestinal infection but also to the increased colon cancer risk of cholecystectomized patients.

Scientific Reports