Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are used to reduce gastric acid production in individuals’ guts and are prescribed to treat ulcers, gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD), and other conditions associated with acid production. It is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. We know (and have written about) that PPIs are associated with increased intestinal infections, specifically Clostridium difficile, and the gut microbiome plays an important role in infections of the intestine. A recent study looked at the influence that PPIs had on the gut microbiome.
The team of researchers studied the gut microbiome of 1815 individuals. They looked at PPI users vs non-users. Of those sampled, 215 of them were taking a PPI at the time that a sample was taken. It was found that those taking the PPIs had lower microbial diversity compared to those not taking PPIs. They also found that bacteria usually found in the mouth was over-represented in the fecal samples of those taking PPIs, including those in the Rothia genus. They also observed an increase in Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Escherichia coli, a potentially pathogenic bacterium.
PPI usage effects are more prominent than those of most other drugs, including antibiotics. The results of this study are consistent with a less healthy microbiome and allow us to better understand why PPIs may lead to an increase of susceptibility to intestinal infections like C. diff.