Background: Recent studies have shown that the fecal microbiota is generally resilient to short-term antibiotic administration, but some bacterial taxa may remain depressed for several months. Limited information is available about the effect of antimicrobials on small intestinal microbiota, an important contributor to gastrointestinal health. The antibiotic tylosin is often successfully used for the treatment of chronic diarrhea in dogs, but its exact mode of action and its effect on the intestinal microbiota remain unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of tylosin on canine jejunal microbiota. Tylosin was administered at 20 to 22 mg/kg q 24 hr for 14 days to five healthy dogs, each with a pre-existing jejunal fistula. Jejunal brush samples were collected through the fistula on days 0, 14, and 28 (14 days after withdrawal of tylosin). Bacterial diversity was characterized using massive parallel 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing.
Results: Pyrosequencing revealed a previously unrecognized species richness in the canine small intestine. Ten bacterial phyla were identified. Microbial populations were phylogenetically more similar during tylosin treatment. However, a remarkable inter-individual response was observed for specific taxa. Fusobacteria, Bacteroidales, and Moraxella tended to decrease. The proportions of Enterococcus-like organisms, Pasteurella spp., and Dietzia spp. increased significantly during tylosin administration (p < 0.05). The proportion of Escherichia coli-like organisms increased by day 28 (p = 0.04). These changes were not accompanied by any obvious clinical effects. On day 28, the phylogenetic composition of the microbiota was similar to day 0 in only 2 of 5 dogs. Bacterial diversity resembled the pre-treatment state in 3 of 5 dogs. Several bacterial taxa such as Spirochaetes, Streptomycetaceae, and Prevotellaceae failed to recover at day 28 (p < 0.05). Several bacterial groups considered to be sensitive to tylosin increased in their proportions.
Conclusion: Tylosin may lead to prolonged effects on the composition and diversity of jejunal microbiota. However, these changes were not associated with any short-term clinical signs of gastrointestinal disease in healthy dogs. Our results illustrate the complexity of the intestinal microbiota and the challenges associated with evaluating the effect of antibiotic administration on the various bacterial groups and their potential interactions.