We assessed whether intermittent hypoxia, which emulates one of the hallmarks of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), leads to altered faecal microbiome in a murine model. In vivo partial pressure of oxygen was measured in colonic faeces during intermittent hypoxia in four anesthetised mice. 10 mice were subjected to a pattern of chronic intermittent hypoxia (20 s at 5% O2 and 40 s at room air for 6 h·day(-1)) for 6 weeks and 10 mice served as normoxic controls. Faecal samples were obtained and microbiome composition was determined by 16S rRNA pyrosequencing and bioinformatic analysis by Quantitative Insights into Microbial Ecology. Intermittent hypoxia exposures translated into hypoxia/re-oxygenation patterns in the faeces proximal to the bowel epithelium (<200 μm). A significant effect of intermittent hypoxia on global microbial community structure was found. Intermittent hypoxia increased the α-diversity (Shannon index, p<0.05) and induced a change in the gut microbiota (ANOSIM analysis of β-diversity, p<0.05). Specifically, intermittent hypoxia-exposed mice showed a higher abundance of Firmicutes and a smaller abundance of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria phyla than controls. Faecal microbiota composition and diversity are altered as a result of intermittent hypoxia realistically mimicking OSA, suggesting the possibility that physiological interplays between host and gut microbiota could be deregulated in OSA.
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