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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.02635

Intestinal Bacteroides sp. imbalance associated with the occurrence of childhood undernutrition in China

 Dongfang Li1, 2, Yinhu Li3, Wenkui Dai3, Huihui Wang4, Chuangzhao Qiu2, Su Feng5, Qian Zhou3, Wenjian Wang4,  Xin Feng2, Kaihu Yao6, Yanhong Liu2, Yonghong Yang2, 4, 6,  Zhenyu YANG2,  Ximing Xu5,  Shuai Cheng Li3*, Jurong Wei4* and  Ke Zhou1*
  • 1Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
  • 2WeHealth Gene, China
  • 3City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 4Shenzhen Children's Hospital, China
  • 5Nankai University, China
  • 6Beijing Children’s Hospital, Capital Medical University, China

Undernutrition (UN) is a worldwide concern affecting the morbidity and mortality among children while the safety and long-term efficacy of the current treatments remain controversial. Recent evidences showing the roles of gut microbiome (GM) in nutrient absorption enables an alternative intervention to safely treat UN with sustainable amelioration. To enhance our understanding on GM and childhood undernutrition, we deep sequenced the gut metagenomes of 65 children with moderate or severe undernutrition (UN group) and 61 healthy children (HC group) to identify associated taxa and genes using a two-stage validation scheme. At stage I, 54 UN patients and 51 healthy children were enrolled for the discovery of GM markers in UN children. Then, the accuracy of the markers were testified in additional 11 UN patients and 10 healthy children at stage II. Compared to the HC group, the UN group harbored lower richness of microbial genes (P=0.005, FDR=0.005) and species (P=0.002, FDR=0.002). The distributions of bacterial genes enables the identification of 16 gene markers to discriminate the UN patients with high accuracy (averaged areas under receiver operating curve (AUC)=0.87), including three Bacteroides uniformis genes that are responsible for the synthesis of iron transporters. We also identified four species markers to confidently discriminate the UN patients from the HC children (averaged AUC=0.91), including Bacteroides ovatus, Bacteroides uniformis, Bacteroides uniformis and Bacteroides vulgatus. In addition, metabolic comparison showed significantly decreased isobutyric acid (P=0.005, FDR=0.017) and increased isovaleric acid (P=0.006, FDR=0.017) in UN patients. We also identified notable correlations between microbial species and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and several nutritional indicators, including acetic acid and iron (r=0.436, P=0.029), butyric acid and iron (r=0.422, P=0.036), butyric acid and lymphocyte (r=-0.309, P=0.011), acetic acid and total protein (r=-0.303, P=0.043). Taken together, the distinct features of gut microbiota in UN patients highlight the taxonomic and functional shift during the development of UN and provide solid theoretical basis for intervention in childhood undernutrition through gut microbes.

Keywords: Childhood undernutrition, Gut microbiome markers, Bacteroides, iron transporter, Nutritional indicators

Received: 10 Aug 2019; Accepted: 29 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Li, Li, Dai, Wang, Qiu, Feng, Zhou, Wang, Feng, Yao, Liu, Yang, YANG, Xu, Li, Wei and Zhou. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Shuai Cheng Li, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, shuaicli@cityu.edu.hk
Dr. Jurong Wei, Shenzhen Children's Hospital, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, weijurong65@163.com
Prof. Ke Zhou, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430074, Hubei Province, China, k.zhou@hust.edu.cn