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Microbiome May Provide Clues to IC/BPS Diagnosis and Treatment

Braundmeier-Fleming A, Russell NT, Yang W, Nas MY, Yaggie RE, Berry M, Bachrach L, Flury SC, Marko DS, Bushell CB, Welge ME, White BA, Schaeffer AJ, Klumpp DJ. Stool-based biomarkers of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. Sci Rep. 2016 May 18;6:26083. doi: 10.1038/srep26083.

There is rapidly growing interest in looking at the microbiome (i.e., the variety of microorganisms associated with humans) and how certain features of the microbiome could promote health, or be a factor in illness. In particular, some researchers think the microbiome could be implicated in the symptoms of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). Although the exact cause of IC/BPS is still unknown, there are studies suggesting that the microbiome influences pelvic pain in animals; thus, there is speculation that microorganisms in the gut or reproductive tract of humans could be somehow influencing pain symptoms associated with IC/BPS in humans as well. In this article, researchers characterize the microbiome of both IC/BPS patients and healthy control subjects. In all, they found 26 significant features of the IC microbiome, including various groups of organisms that were found more frequently in the stool of IC patients versus controls. The investigators are interested in looking more closely at these features to see if they vary, depending on certain states, such as IC flares or remissions. In the future, knowing the IC microbiome might help clinicians accurately diagnose IC/BPS, and perhaps more importantly, might lead to new treatments that are directly targeted at organisms known to be prevalent in the IC microbiome.