The present study aimed to evaluate microbial diversity, taxonomic profiles, and fecal short chain fatty acid (SCFA) in female patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
Forty participants (19 patients with FMS and 21 controls) were included in the study, and the diagnosis of FMS was made based on the revised American College of Rheumatology criteria. DNA extraction from fecal samples and 16S rRNA gene sequencing were conducted to estimate microbial composition. To compare alpha diversity, the Shannon index accounting for both evenness and richness, Pielou’s evenness, and Faith’s phylogenetic diversity (PD) were calculated. Unweighted and weighted UniFrac distances, Jaccard distance, and Bray-Curtis dissimilarity were used to calculate beta diversity. Furthermore, stool metabolites were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and a generalized regression model was used to compare the SCFA of stools between FMS and healthy controls.
Compared with the control, patients with FMS had lower observed OTU ( = 0.048), Shannon’s index ( = 0.044), and evenness ( < 0.001). Although patients with FMS had a lower PD than did controls, statistical significance was not reached. We observed significant differences in unweighted ( = 0.007), weighted UniFrac-based diversity ( < 0.005), Jaccard distance ( < 0.001), and Bray-Curtis dissimilarity ( < 0.001) between the two groups. Although the FMS groups showed lower propionate levels compared with those of the control group, only marginal significance was observed (0.82 [0.051] mg/g in FMS vs. 1.16 [0.077] mg/g in the control group, = 0.069).
The diversity of the microbiome in the FMS group was lower than that in the control group, and the reduced stool propionate levels could be associated with the decreased abundance of propionate-producing bacteria.