Gut Microbiome Analysis Identifies Potential Etiological Factors in Acute Gastroenteritis

Infect Immun. 2018 Jun 21;86(7):e00060-18. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00060-18. Print 2018 Jul.


The morbidity and mortality resulting from acute gastroenteritis and associated chronic sequelae represent a substantial burden on health care systems worldwide. Few studies have investigated changes in the gut microbiome following an episode of acute gastroenteritis. By using nondirected 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, the fecal microbiota of 475 patients with acute gastroenteritis was examined. Patient age was correlated with the overall microbial composition, with a decrease in the abundance of Faecalibacterium being observed in older patients. We observed the emergence of a potential Escherichia-Shigella-dominated enterotype in a subset of patients, and this enterotype was predicted to be more proinflammatory than the other common enterotypes, with the latter being dominated by Bacteroides or Faecalibacterium The increased abundance of Escherichia-Shigella did not appear to be associated with infection with an agent of a similar sequence similarity. Stool color and consistency were associated with the diversity and composition of the microbiome, with deviations from the norm (not brown and solid) showing increases in the abundances of bacteria such as Escherichia-Shigella and Veillonella Analysis of enriched outliers within the data identified a range of genera previously associated with gastrointestinal diseases, including Treponema, Proteus, Capnocytophaga, Arcobacter, Campylobacter, Haemophilus, Aeromonas, and Pseudomonas Our data represent the first in-depth analysis of gut microbiota in acute gastroenteritis. Phenotypic changes in stool color and consistency were associated with specific changes in the microbiota. Enriched bacterial taxa were detected in cases where no causative agent was identified by using routine diagnostic tests, suggesting that in the future, microbiome analyses may be utilized to improve diagnostics.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; acute gastroenteritis; enterotype; gut; microbiota; pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feces
  • Gastroenteritis / etiology*
  • Gastroenteritis / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult