Bacteriophages as potential new mammalian pathogens

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 1;7(1):7043. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07278-6.


Increased intestinal permeability and translocation of gut bacteria trigger various polyaetiological diseases associated with chronic inflammation and underlie a variety of poorly treatable pathologies. Previous studies have established a primary role of the microbiota composition and intestinal permeability in such pathologies. Using a rat model, we examined the effects of exposure to a bacteriophage cocktail on intestinal permeability and relative abundance of taxonomic units in the gut bacterial community. There was an increase in markers of impaired gut permeability, such as the lactulose/mannitol ratio, plasma endotoxin concentrations, and serum levels of inflammation-related cytokines, following the bacteriophage challenge. We observed significant differences in the alpha diversity of faecal bacterial species and found that richness and diversity index values increased following the bacteriophage challenge. There was a reduction in the abundance of Blautia, Catenibacterium, Lactobacillus, and Faecalibacterium species and an increase in Butyrivibrio, Oscillospira and Ruminococcus after bacteriophage administration. These findings provide novel insights into the role of bacteriophages as potentially pathogenic for mammals and their possible implication in the development of diseases associated with increased intestinal permeability.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation*
  • Bacteriophages / pathogenicity*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endotoxins / blood
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Lactulose / blood
  • Mannitol / blood
  • Rats


  • Cytokines
  • Endotoxins
  • Mannitol
  • Lactulose