Chronic Trichuris muris Infection in C57BL/6 Mice Causes Significant Changes in Host Microbiota and Metabolome: Effects Reversed by Pathogen Clearance

PLoS One. 2015 May 4;10(5):e0125945. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125945. eCollection 2015.


Trichuris species are a globally important and prevalent group of intestinal helminth parasites, in which Trichuris muris (mouse whipworm) is an ideal model for this disease. This paper describes the first ever highly controlled and comprehensive investigation into the effects of T. muris infection on the faecal microbiota of mice and the effects on the microbiota following successful clearance of the infection. Communities were profiled using DGGE, 454 pyrosequencing, and metabolomics. Changes in microbial composition occurred between 14 and 28 days post infection, resulting in significant changes in α and β- diversity. This impact was dominated by a reduction in the diversity and abundance of Bacteroidetes, specifically Prevotella and Parabacteroides. Metabolomic analysis of stool samples of infected mice at day 41 showed significant differences to uninfected controls with a significant increase in the levels of a number of essential amino acids and a reduction in breakdown of dietary plant derived carbohydrates. The significant reduction in weight gain by infected mice probably reflects these metabolic changes and the incomplete digestion of dietary polysaccharides. Following clearance of infection the intestinal microbiota underwent additional changes gradually transitioning by day 91 towards a microbiota of an uninfected animal. These data indicate that the changes in microbiota as a consequence of infection were transitory requiring the presence of the pathogen for maintenance. Interestingly this was not observed for all of the key immune cell populations associated with chronic T. muris infection. This reflects the highly regulated chronic response and potential lasting immunological consequences of dysbiosis in the microbiota. Thus infection of T. muris causes a significant and substantial impact on intestinal microbiota and digestive function of mice with affects in long term immune regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / administration & dosage
  • Anthelmintics / pharmacokinetics
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Biodiversity
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Metagenome
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota*
  • Time Factors
  • Trichuriasis / drug therapy
  • Trichuriasis / metabolism*
  • Trichuriasis / microbiology*
  • Trichuriasis / parasitology*
  • Trichuris* / drug effects
  • Trichuris* / immunology


  • Anthelmintics

Associated data

  • BioProject/PRJEB7724