Successful transplantation of guinea pig gut microbiota in mice and its effect on pneumonic plague sensitivity

PeerJ. 2018 Sep 24;6:e5637. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5637. eCollection 2018.


Microbiota-driven variations in the inflammatory response are predicted to regulate host responses to infection. Increasing evidence indicates that the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts have an intimate relationship with each other. Gut microbiota can influence lung immunity whereby gut-derived injurious factors can reach the lungs and systemic circulation via the intestinal lymphatics. The intestinal microbiota's ability to resist colonization can be extended to systemic infections or to pathogens infecting distant sites such as the lungs. Unlike the situation with large mammals, the microtus Yersinia pestis 201 strain exhibits strong virulence in mice, but nearly no virulence to large mammals (such as guinea pigs). Hence, to assess whether the intestinal microbiota from guinea pigs was able to affect the sensitivity of mice to challenge infection with the Y. pestis 201 strain, we fed mice with guinea pig diets for two months, after which they were administered 0.5 ml of guinea pig fecal suspension for 30 days by oral gavage. The stools from each mouse were collected on days 0, 15, and 30, DNA was extracted from them, and 16S rRNA sequencing was performed to assess the diversity and composition of the gut microbiota. We found that the intestinal microbiota transplants from the guinea pigs were able to colonize the mouse intestines. The mice were then infected with Yersinia pestis 201 by lung invasion, but no statistical difference was found in the survival rates of the mice that were colonized with the guinea pig's gut microbiota and the control mice. This indicates that the intestinal microbiota transplantation from the guinea pigs did not affect the sensitivity of the mice to pneumonic plague.

Keywords: Guinea pig; Gut microbiota; Mice; Transplantation; Yersinia pestis.

Grant support

This research is supported by National Natural Science Foundation for Key Programs of China Grants (No. 81790632). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.