Gut Microbiota-driven Drug Metabolism in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Femke Crouwel*, Hans J. C. Buiter, Nanne K. de Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Aims: The gut microbiota plays an important role in the metabolization and modulation of several types of drugs. With this study we aimed to review the literature relating to microbial drug metabolism of medication prescribed in inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] practice. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed in Embase and PubMed from inception to October 2019. The search was conducted with predefined MeSH/Emtree and text terms. All studies regarding drug metabolism by microbiota of medication prescribed in IBD practice were eligible. A total of 1018 records were encountered and 89 articles were selected for full text reading. Results: Intestinal bacterial metabolism or modulation is of influence in four specific drugs used in IBD (mesalazines, methotrexate, glucocorticoids and thioguanine). The gut microbiota cleaves the azo-bond of sulfasalazine, balsalazide and olsalazine and releases the active moiety 5-aminosalicylic acid. It has an impact on the metabolization and potentially on the response of methotrexate therapy. In particular, thioguanine can be converted by intestinal bacteria into the pharmacologically active 6-thioguanine nucleotides without the requirement of host metabolism. Glucocorticoid compounds can be prone to bacterial degradation. Conclusion: The human intestinal microbiota can have a major impact on drug metabolism and efficacy of medication prescribed in IBD practice. A better understanding of these interactions between microbiota and drugs is needed and should be an integral part of the drug development pathway of new IBD medication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-315
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Crohn's & colitis
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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