Objective: We used the postoperative recurrence model to better understand the role of adherent and invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) bacteria in Crohn’s disease (CD), taking advantage of a well-characterised postoperative cohort.

Design: From a prospective, multicentre cohort of operated patients with CD, AIEC identification was performed within the surgical specimen (M0) (N=181 patients) and the neoterminal ileum (n=119 patients/181) during colonoscopy performed 6 months after surgery (M6). Endoscopic postoperative recurrence was graded using Rutgeerts’ index. The mucosa-associated microbiota was analysed by 16S sequencing at M0 and M6. Relative risks or ORs were adjusted on potential confounders.

Results: AIEC prevalence was twofold higher within the neoterminal ileum at M6 (30.3%) than within the surgical specimen (14.9%) (p<0.001). AIEC within the neoterminal ileum at M6 was associated with higher rate of early ileal lesions (i1) (41.6% vs 17.1%; aRR 3.49 (95% CI 1.01 to 12.04), p=0.048) or ileal lesions (i2b+i3) (38.2% vs 17.1%; aRR 3.45 (95% CI 1.06 to 11.30), p=0.040) compared with no lesion (i0). AIEC within the surgical specimen was predictive of higher risk of i2b-endoscopic postoperative recurrence (POR) (aOR 2.54 (95% CI 1.01 to 6.44), p=0.049) and severe endoscopic POR (aOR 3.36 (95% CI 1.25 to 9.06), p=0.017). While only 5.0% (6/119) of the patients were AIEC-positive at both M0 and M6, 43.7% (52/119), patients with history of positive test for AIEC (M0 or M6) had higher risk of ileal endoscopic POR (aOR 2.32 (95% CI 1.01 to 5.39), p=0.048)), i2b-endoscopic postoperative recurrence (aOR 2.41 (95% CI 1.01 to 5.74); p=0.048) and severe endoscopic postoperative (aOR=3.84 (95% CI 1.32 to 11.18), p=0.013). AIEC colonisation was associated with a specific microbiota signature including increased abundance of Ruminococcus gnavus.

Conclusion: Based on the postoperative recurrence model, our data support the idea that AIEC are involved in the early steps of ileal CD.