Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes mucus, sweat, and other fluid producing cells in the body to create thick, glue-like fluids. This causes many ducts in the body to become blocked. Most notably, it causes severe lung damage and obstructs the airway, leading to dyspnea. While its effects are very well documented, a new area of interest is the effect of cystic fibrosis on the gut microbiota.

Cystic fibrosis, as well as its treatment, cause an altered gut microbiota compared to a control group. A study has found that those in the cystic fibrosis group had significantly increased firmicutes and decreased bacteroidetes. This was significant enough to alter functionality and create differences in metabolites. The gut microbiota in those with cystic fibrosis is actually able to metabolise xenobiotic compounds and synthesize and metabolize lipids better than control. This could explain why fat absorption is lower in cystic fibrosis patients and why a high fat diet is needed to maintain an adequate weight.

Fouhy, F., Ronan, N. J., O’Sullivan, O., McCarthy, Y., Walsh, A. M., Murphy, D. M., . . . Plant, B. J. (2017, July 27). A pilot study demonstrating the altered gut microbiota functionality in stable adults with Cystic Fibrosis. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06880-y