Significant Correlation Between the Infant Gut Microbiome and Rotavirus Vaccine Response in Rural Ghana

J Infect Dis. 2017 Jan 1;215(1):34-41. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiw518. Epub 2016 Oct 31.


Background: Rotavirus (RV) is the leading cause of diarrhea-related death in children worldwide and 95% of RV-associated deaths occur in Africa and Asia where RV vaccines (RVVs) have lower efficacy. We hypothesize that differences in intestinal microbiome composition correlate with the decreased RVV efficacy observed in poor settings.

Methods: We conducted a nested, case-control study comparing prevaccination, fecal microbiome compositions between 6-week old, matched RVV responders and nonresponders in rural Ghana. These infants' microbiomes were then compared with 154 age-matched, healthy Dutch infants' microbiomes, assumed to be RVV responders. Fecal microbiome analysis was performed in all groups using the Human Intestinal Tract Chip.

Results: We analyzed findings in 78 Ghanaian infants, including 39 RVV responder and nonresponder pairs. The overall microbiome composition was significantly different between RVV responders and nonresponders (FDR, 0.12), and Ghanaian responders were more similar to Dutch infants than nonresponders (P = .002). RVV response correlated with an increased abundance of Streptococcus bovis and a decreased abundance of the Bacteroidetes phylum in comparisons between both Ghanaian RVV responders and nonresponders (FDR, 0.008 vs 0.003) and Dutch infants and Ghanaian nonresponders (FDR, 0.002 vs 0.009).

Conclusions: The intestinal microbiome composition correlates significantly with RVV immunogenicity and may contribute to the diminished RVV immunogenicity observed in developing countries.

Keywords: intestinal microbiome; mucosal immunity; rotavirus vaccine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteroidetes / isolation & purification
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / prevention & control
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / immunology
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Rotavirus / immunology
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Rotavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Rotavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology
  • Rotavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Rotavirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Streptococcus bovis / isolation & purification
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Rotavirus Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated