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  • Maternal Microbiome Shapes the Infant Gut Through Gene Transfers

    Maternal gut microbiomes are well known for transferring microbes to babies and providing critical benefits to newborns.

    To better understand this complex process, researchers surveyed the microbiome and metabolome of 137 mothers and 74 infants, including 70 mother-infant pairs that were part of an additional study, the EDIA (Early Dietary Intervention and Later Signs of Beta-Cell Autoimmunity) cohort.

    In this study, metagenomic DNA was extracted from individuals’ stool samples to be converted into sequencing libraries using the Nextera XT DNA library kit. All libraries were run on the HiSeq 2500 to obtain 2.5 Gb of sequence per sample. Additional analysis was conducted using circulating cytokine assays and four liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) methods for metabolite analysis.

    After metagenomic assembly, it was determined that an infant’s microbiome tended to be less diverse than maternal microbiomes. However, bacteria from maternal guts shared their genes with bacteria in the infants’ guts. 977 transmitted genes were identified and involved in essential functions such as iron acquisition, carbohydrate utilization, and amino acid metabolism.

    Most bacteria responsible for these HGT events are from the Bacteroidales order, known for transmission events between species in normal human guts.

    In addition, metabolomic analysis of breastfed infants showed an early increase of intestinal inflammation markers, which had an inverse correlation with proinflammatory cytokines from serum. This suggests that breastfed infants had metabolites that may have promoted healthy immune maturation.

    This research highlights how mother-to-infant gene transmission events can influence the gut microbiome and how dietary factors may affect immune development. These results open the door to future work on the microbiome to improve the health of infants.

    For more information on this study—read the full-text article here.

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