Infant gut bacterial community composition and food-related manifestation of atopy in early childhood

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Pediatric allergy and immunology


BACKGROUND: Immunoglobulin E-mediated food allergy (IgE-FA) has emerged as a global public health concern. Immune dysregulation is an underlying mechanism for IgE-FA, caused by "dysbiosis" of the early intestinal microbiota. We investigated the association between infant gut bacterial composition and food-related atopy at age 3-5 years using a well-characterized birth cohort.

METHODS: The study definition of IgE-FA to egg, milk, or peanut was based on physician panel retrospective review of clinical and questionnaire data collected from birth through age 3-5 years. Using 16S rRNA sequencing, we profiled the bacterial gut microbiota present in stool specimens collected at 1 and 6 months of age.

RESULTS: Of 447 infants with data for analysis, 44 (9.8%) met physician panel review criteria for IgE-FA to ≥1 of the three allergens. Among children classified as IgE-FA at 3-5 years, infant stool samples showed significantly less diversity of the gut microbiota compared to the samples of children classified as no IgE-FA at age 3-5 years, especially for milk and peanut (all covariate adjusted p's for alpha metrics <0.007). Testing of individual operational taxonomic units (OTUs) revealed 6-month deficiencies in 31 OTUs for IgE-FA compared to no IgE-FA, mostly in the orders Lactobacillales, Bacteroidales, and Clostridiales.

CONCLUSIONS: Variations in gut microbial composition in infant stool were associated with a study definition of IgE-FA at 3-5 years of age. This included evidence of a lack of bacterial diversity, deficiencies in specific OTUs, and delayed microbial maturation. Results support dysbiosis in IgE-FA pathogenesis.

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ePub ahead of print