Acute emergence of the intestinal pathobiome after postinjury pneumonia

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2024 Jul 1;97(1):65-72. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000004300. Epub 2024 Mar 14.


Background: Previous preclinical studies have demonstrated sex-specific alterations in the gut microbiome following traumatic injury or sepsis alone; however, the impact of host sex on dysbiosis in the setting of postinjury sepsis acutely is unknown. We hypothesized that multicompartmental injury with subsequent pneumonia would result in host sex-specific dysbiosis.

Methods: Male and proestrus female Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 8/group) were subjected to either multicompartmental trauma (PT) (lung contusion, hemorrhagic shock, cecectomy, bifemoral pseudofracture), PT plus 2-hour daily restraint stress (PT/RS), PT with postinjury day 1 Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia (PT-PNA), PT/RS with pneumonia (PT/RS-PNA), or naive controls. Fecal microbiome was measured on days 0 and 2 using high-throughput 16S rRNA sequencing and Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology 2 bioinformatics analyses. Microbial α-diversity was assessed using Chao1 (number of different unique species) and Shannon (species richness and evenness) indices. β-diversity was assessed using principal coordinate analysis. Significance was defined as p < 0.05.

Results: All groups had drastic declines in the Chao1 (α-diversity) index compared with naive controls ( p < 0.05). Groups PT-PNA and PT/RS-PNA resulted in different β-diversity arrays compared with uninfected counterparts (PT, PT/RS) ( p = 0.001). Postinjury sepsis cohorts showed a loss of commensal bacteria along with emergence of pathogenic bacteria, with blooms of Proteus in PT-PNA and Escherichia-Shigella group in PT/RS-PNA compared with other cohorts. At day 2, PT-PNA resulted in β-diversity, which was unique between males and females ( p = 0.004). Microbiome composition in PT-PNA males was dominated by Anaerostipes and Parasuterella , whereas females had increased Barnesiella and Oscillibacter . The PT/RS males had an abundance of Gastranaerophilales and Muribaculaceae .

Conclusion: Multicompartmental trauma complicated by sepsis significantly diminishes diversity and alters microbial composition toward a severely dysbiotic state early after injury, which varies between males and females. These findings highlight the role of sex in postinjury sepsis and the pathobiome, which may influence outcomes after severe trauma and sepsis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dysbiosis* / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / microbiology
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley*
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sex Factors


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S