Keeping you up to date with microbiome research
FECAL TRANSPLANTATION CAN RESTORE THE GUT MICROBIOTA OF C-SECTION BABIES
3rd October 2020
In a potential gamechanger for caesarean born babies, who umiss out on the seeding of the microbiome via the birth canal, a new study has been able to restore the microbiome using a fecal transplant.
Birth by Cesarean section is detrimental to normal gut microbiota development. Researchers demonstrated that the intestinal microbiota development can be restored by postnatal, orally-delivered transplantation of maternal fecal microbiota.
The human gut contains a diverse ecosystem of microbes: mainly bacteria, as well as viruses and fungi, termed the gut microbiota. Recent years have shown that the gut microbiota have widespread effects on the overall functioning of the host’s body.
Normally infants receive gut bacteria from the mother at birth. Some of these maternal bacteria grow out in the infant as they aid the infant in digesting breast milk.
Birth by Cesarean section (C-section) has been shown to be especially detrimental to normal gut microbiota development. During birth by C-section infants are not exposed to maternal fecal microbes and this prevents the natural transfer of microbes from mother to baby.
In the recently reported study, researchers of mainly the University of Helsinki evaluated whether the disturbed intestinal microbiota development could be restored in term Cesarean section infants by postnatal, orally-delivered maternal fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). FMT has been successfully used in adults to normalize gut microbiota composition and cure diseases such as recurrent Clostridium difficile infections.
The results of the study are published in the scientific journal Cell.
"Birth by C-section is associated with an increased risk of many immune-related diseases, suggesting that the lack of maternal microbes in early life may have long-term consequences on the health of the child. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that the intestinal microbiota of infants born by C-section can be postnatally restored by maternal FMT and provides further support for the natural transfer of gut microbiota from mother to infant," says Willem M. de Vos, Professor of Human Microbiomics who was a senior author on the study.
The procedure reduces risks that abnormal gut microbiota may confer
The researchers applied FMT immediately after birth by using the infants’ own mothers’ fecal samples. Because feces can contain dangerous pathogens, these were first carefully screened. Out of 17 tested mothers, 7 had pathogen-free samples and were selected for the study.
All seven C-section born infants that received the FMT remained healthy and experienced no negative effects from the treatment. Their gut microbiota composition was monitored for 3 months and compared the composition to that of untreated C-section born infants and vaginally born infants.
"The gut microbiota of the FMT-treated infants became very quickly similar to that of vaginally born infants. It did not resemble that of the untreated C-section born infants, showing that the treatment was effective in restoring normal microbiota development," says Dr. Katri Korpela, first author on the study.
"This simple procedure can normalize gut microbiota colonization and development in C-section born infants, which will likely contribute to reduced risk of developing chronic diseases that abnormal gut microbiota may confer," adds Dr. Otto Helve MD, specialist in pediatric infectious diseases and shared first author of the study.
"This procedure should be only performed after careful screening of the mother for potential pathogens," stresses Professor Sture Andersson MD, neonatologist who also was a senior author on the publication.
Reference: Korpela K., Helve O., Kolho K-L., Saisto T., Skogberg K., Dikareva E., Stefanovic V., Salonen A., Andersson S., de Vos W. Maternal Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Cesarean-Born Infants Rapidly Restores Normal Gut Microbial Development: A Proof-of-Concept. Cell, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.047
INFLUENCE OF VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTATION ON A BABY’S GUT MICROBIOME
23rd August 2020
Vitamin D supplementation is associated with compositional changes in a baby’s microbiome at three months of age.
New research from the CHILD Cohort Study has shed light on the influence of vitamin D supplementation on a baby’s developing gut microbiome.
The study, published in the journal Gut Microbes, found that vitamin D supplementation is associated with compositional changes in a baby’s microbiome—notably a lower abundance of the bacteria—at three months of age.
“Vitamin D plays an important role in early life, supporting bone metabolism and the healthy development of a baby’s immune system,” said senior author Anita Kozyrskyj, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and a CHILD Cohort Study investigator. “Most infants in North America receive vitamin D, either as a supplement to breastfeeding or as an ingredient in commercial infant formulas, so we wanted to understand the association between vitamin D and the presence or abundance of key bacteria within a baby’s intestinal tract.”
The researchers examined fecal samples taken during home visits from 1,157 infants who are part of the CHILD Cohort Study—a national study that is following nearly 3,500 Canadian children from before birth to adolescence with the primary goal of discovering the root causes of allergies, asthma, obesity and other chronic diseases.
They found that direct vitamin D supplementation of infants with vitamin D drops was associated with a lower abundance of Megamonas, regardless of how a baby was fed (breastfed or formula fed). “While little is known about Megamonas in infancy, our previous research suggests there may be a link between this bacterium and asthma or respiratory viral infections, so vitamin D may offer additional benefits for childhood health that should be studied further,” added Kozyrskyj, also a member of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute.
The researchers also assessed the association between infant and maternal vitamin D supplementation and the presence of Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) in a baby’s gut. “Some infants carry the diarrhea-causing bacterium C. difficile in their guts without any symptoms. However, when the levels of gut bacteria become imbalanced, this particular bacterium can multiply, causing illness and increasing the susceptibility to chronic disease later in childhood,” commented first author Kelsea Drall, an MSc graduate from the U of A and an AllerGen trainee.
The study found that nearly 30 per cent of the infants carried C. difficile, but there was a lower incidence of the bacterium among exclusively breastfed infants. However, neither infant supplementation with vitamin D drops nor maternal vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy or after delivery was associated with C. difficile colonization. “Interestingly, maternal consumption of vitamin D-fortified milk was the only factor that reduced the likelihood of C. difficile colonization in infants,” added Drall.
According to Kozyrskyj, an infant's gut microbiota undergoes rapid change in early life. Therefore, it is critical to understand the factors associated with microbial communities populating the infant gut during this key developmental period.
“Low vitamin D levels have been associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—a common lung infection among infants—and more recently, susceptibility to COVID-19 disease,” she pointed out. “In the CHILD Cohort Study, we have a unique opportunity to follow our study children as they get older to understand how microbial changes observed as a result of dietary interventions may be associated with later health outcomes such as asthma and viral infections.”
(From the University of Alberta)
RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HOW GUT BACTERIA HELP THE IMMUNE SYSTEM TO BATTLE CANCEROUS TUMORS
14th August 2020
FUNGI ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY PRESENT IN HUMAN MILK AND ARE SHAPED BY EARLY LIFE FACTORS AND THE OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT
6th August 2020
Bacteria in human milk play an important role in kick-starting the colonization of an infant’s gut. Researchers are looking at how perinatal and environmental factors may shape the overlooked fungi in breast milk.
Meghan Azad’s research group profiled the fungal makeup of breast milk in 271 mothers from the CHILD birth cohort and found detectable fungi—mainly Candida, Alternaria and Rhodotorula—in around 21% of samples. The presence of fungi in the milk was also linked to lower levels of the human milk oligosaccharides disialyllacto-N-tetraose and lacto-N-hexaose. It is likely that those molecules might either inhibit milk fungi or be metabolized by them. The authors, however, acknowledged that other milk components beyond HMOs could also influence milk fungi.
Researchers also saw how the richness of fungi and bacteria in the milk was closely related. That is, in the presence of fungi, the relative abundance of Proteobacteria was lower, while Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla were higher. Those results show that the community of bacteria in breast milk may be shaped by breast milk fungi, with both agonistic and antagonistic interactions between the two kingdoms at the ecological level.
Correlations were also observed between milk fungi, maternal and infant factors (e.g. maternal atopy and early-life antibiotic exposure) and the outdoor environment. Population density in participants’ home cities and season were among the factors that were shown to have the greatest influence on the human milk mycobiota. That might be explained by shifts in outdoor fungi levels, which in turn might affect the presence of milk fungi. For instance, milk samples collected in spring had a lower presence of fungi. In contrast to bacterial milk microbiota composition that was addressed earlier, mode of breastfeeding did not show an effect on mycobiota diversity and composition.
IS IT TIME TO CUT DOWN ON SALT FOR GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH?
1st August 2020
A new randomized controlled trial shows dietary sodium reduction is good for both the gut microbiome and blood pressure
GUT MICROBIOME TRANSLATES STRESS INTO SICKLE CELL CRISES
1st August 2020
A new study shows how chronic psychological stress leads to painful vessel-clogging episodes—the most common complication of sickle-cell disease (SCD) and a frequent cause of hospitalizations. The findings, made in mice, show that the gut microbiome plays a key role in triggering those episodes and reveals possible ways to prevent them. The research was conducted by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and published online in Immunity.
GUT MICROBIOTA PROVIDE CLUES FOR TREATING DIABETES
29th July 2020
A study from Sweden has shown that alterations in the gut microbiome may contribute to diabetes.
“In individuals with raised fasting blood glucose levels or reduced glucose tolerance, a condition known as prediabetes, as well as in people with untreated type 2 diabetes, the gut microbiota is changed. Accordingly, the findings show that the gut microbiota can be used to identify individuals with diabetes.
The study also shows that, in the gut microbiota of study participants with prediabetes or who had developed type 2 diabetes, the potential to produce butyrate (a fatty acid that promotes hormone production in the gastrointestinal tract and controls inflammation) was reduced. This substance is formed mainly by beneficial bacteria in intestines as they digest dietary fibers”.
THE GUT MICROBIOME: AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, BEHAVIOUR AND ALLERGIES
A short article on the importance of the microbiome in autoimmune disease, behaviour and allergies
EFFECTS OF BACTERIA ON AUTISTIC LIKE BEHAVIOUR
27th May 2020
In this study, scientists have shown the protective capabilities of good bacteria to prevent autistic like symptoms.
The pups of mice stressed during pregnancy and given a heat treated “good” bacteria did not show autistic behaviours unlike the untreated group.
Having a healthy microbiome at the start of life is so important to long term health and well-being.
COULD GUT MICROBES BE KEY TO SOLVING FOOD ALLERGIES?
24th May 2020
New therapeutics are testing whether protective bacteria can dampen harmful immune responses to food
Yet more evidence about the rule of gut bacteria in allergies
RESEARCH ON TRAINSITION OF MICROBES FROM MOTHER TO INFANT
10th May 2020
“Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham now have used their microbiome “fingerprint” method to report that an individualized mosaic of microbial strains is transmitted to the infant gut microbiome from a mother giving birth through vaginal delivery. They detailed this transmission by analyzing existing metagenomic databases of fecal samples from mother-infant pairs, as well as analyzing mouse dam and pup transmission in a germ-free, or gnotobiotic, mouse model at UAB, where the dams were inoculated with human fecal microbes. “The results of our analysis demonstrate that multiple strains of maternal microbes — some that are not abundant in the maternal fecal community — can be transmitted during birth to establish a diverse infant gut microbial community,”
INFANTS INTRODUCED EARLY TO SOLID FOODS SHOW GUT BACTERIA CHANGES THAT MAY PORTEND FUTURE HEALTH RISKS
21st April 2020
GUT MICROBIOME SHIFTS MAY EXPLAIN HOW EARLY DIETARY FACTORS BRING LATER HEALTH RISKS
Infants who were started on solid foods at or before three months of age showed changes in the levels of gut bacteria and bacterial byproducts, called short-chain fatty acids, measured in their stool samples, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Prior studies have linked the early introduction of solid foods to a higher chance of being overweight in childhood. The new study, published in BMC Microbiology, suggests that early solid food introduction may predispose infants to being overweight at least in part by altering the gut bacterial population.
“How the early introduction of solid foods would cause the later development of obesity has been unknown, but our findings suggest that disruptions to gut bacteria may be one explanation,” says Noel Mueller, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School.
Reference: Moira K. Differding, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon, Cathrine Hoyo, Truls Østbye, Noel T. Mueller. Timing of complementary feeding is associated with gut microbiota diversity and composition and short chain fatty acid concentrations over the first year of life. BMC Microbiology, 2020; 20 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12866-020-01723-9
DOES HEALTHY EXERCISE CHANGE YOUR GUT MICROBIOME?
June 17th 2020
In this article in The Conversation,
PROBIOTICS ('HEALTHY BACTERIA') FOR PREVENTING ACUTE MIDDLE EAR INFECTION IN CHILDREN
July 8th 2020
Does taking probiotics (‘healthy bacteria’) prevent children from getting acute middle ear infections?
Acute middle ear infection is very common in childhood. It is caused by bacteria that travel from the upper part of the throat, through canals (called Eustachian tubes), to the middle ear. Symptoms include fever, earache, and occasionally the eardrum may perforate, discharging pus into the ear canal.
Antibiotics are often prescribed for acute middle ear infection, although they have only a modest effect on reducing symptoms. Moreover, excessive antibiotic use leads to antibiotic resistance, making them less effective for these and other infections. Consequently, preventing acute middle ear infection is highly desirable.
Probiotics are often sold as tablets or powders, as a food ingredient (e.g. in yogurt), and even sprayed directly into the throat. However, it is not yet clear whether they prevent acute middle ear infection. We analysed the scientific evidence to answer this question.
Study characteristics and searches
We searched and identified 17 randomised controlled trials (studies in which participants are assigned to one of two or more treatment groups using a random method), published before October 2018. All were conducted in Europe, and collectively included 3488 children. Twelve trials included children who were not prone to acute middle ear infections, whilst five trials included children who were prone to such infections.
One‐third fewer children not prone to acute middle ear infection who took probiotics experienced acute middle ear infections compared to children not taking probiotics. However, probiotics may not benefit children prone to acute middle ear infection. Taking probiotics did not impact on the number of days of school that children missed. None of the studies reported on the impact of probiotics on the severity of acute middle ear infection. There was no difference between the group taking probiotics and the group not taking probiotics in the number of children experiencing adverse events (harms).
Quality of the evidence
The quality (or certainty) of the evidence was generally moderate (meaning that further research may change our estimates) or high (further research is unlikely to change our estimates). However, the trials differed in terms of types of probiotics evaluated, how often and for how long they were taken, and how the trial results were reported.
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