Transient inflammatory-like state and microbial dysbiosis are pivotal in establishment of mucosal homeostasis during colonisation of germ-free mice

Benef Microbes. 2014 Mar;5(1):67-77. doi: 10.3920/BM2013.0018.


The gut microbiota is increasingly recognised as a key-player in defining the health status of the gastrointestinal tract. Recently, we demonstrated that colonisation of healthy germfree mice with a conventional microbiota (conventionalisation) elicits temporal and region specific host-microbe communication responses that lead to the establishment of a microbiota-accommodating homeostatic state within 30 days. Here, the microbiota composition profiles, mucosal transcriptomes and plasma-analytes in germ-free and conventionalised C57/BL 6 J mice were assessed to decipher the features of the distinctive and pivotal events occurring four days after initiation of the conventionalisation process. The dominance of the microbial genera Helicobacter, Sphingomonas and Mucispirillum in the gut microbiota coincided with the transient mounting of proinflammatory responses in the mucosa and the transiently elevated levels of specific (inflammatory) cytokines and amines in plasma. The overrepresented microbes have previously been associated with the potential to cause disease under certain conditions, illustrating that conventionalisation proceeds through a transient state that resembles situations associated with dysbiosis. However, no overt mucosal inflammation was observed, suggesting a pivotal role of the overrepresented bacterial groups in priming and maturation of the immune system during the process of conventionalisation. These findings imply that the transiently elevated relative overgrowth of particular microbial genera functions as pivotal adjuvants to elicit the corresponding proinflammatory cascades, which precede the full maturation of the different arms of the immune system following these events and is required to achieve a microbiota-accommodating homeostasis in healthy animals.

Keywords: conventionalisation; microbiota; plasma cytokines and metabolites; transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / blood
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Helicobacter / growth & development*
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Sphingomonas / growth & development*


  • Amines
  • Cytokines