Infections by human gastrointestinal helminths are associated with changes in faecal microbiota diversity and composition

Jenkins, T P and Rathnayaka, Y and Perera, P K and Peachey, L E and Nolan, M J and Krause, L and Rajakaruna, R S and Cantacessi, C (2017) Infections by human gastrointestinal helminths are associated with changes in faecal microbiota diversity and composition. PLoS One, 12 (9). e0184719.

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Abstract

Investigations of the impact that patent infections by soil-transmitted gastrointestinal nematode parasites exert on the composition of the host gut commensal flora are attracting growing interest by the scientific community. However, information collected to date varies across experiments, and further studies are needed to identify consistent relationships between parasites and commensal microbial species. Here, we explore the qualitative and quantitative differences between the microbial community profiles of cohorts of human volunteers from Sri Lanka with patent infection by one or more parasitic nematode species (H+), as well as that of uninfected subjects (H-) and of volunteers who had been subjected to regular prophylactic anthelmintic treatment (Ht). High-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene, followed by bioinformatics and biostatistical analyses of sequence data revealed no significant differences in alpha diversity (Shannon) and richness between groups (P = 0.65, P = 0.13 respectively); however, beta diversity was significantly increased in H+ and Ht when individually compared to H-volunteers (P = 0.04). Among others, bacteria of the families Verrucomicrobiaceae and Enterobacteriaceae showed a trend towards increased abundance in H+, whereas the Leuconostocaceae and Bacteroidaceae showed a relative increase in H- and Ht respectively. Our findings add valuable knowledge to the vast, and yet little explored, research field of parasite—microbiota interactions and will provide a basis for the elucidation of the role such interactions play in pathogenic and immune-modulatory properties of parasitic nematodes in both human and animal hosts.

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