Antibiotic usage strongly affects microbial intestinal metabolism and thereby impacts human health.
Understanding this process and the underlying mechanisms remains a major research goal.
Dr Ana Elena Pérez-Cobas and colleagues from Spain conducted the first comparative omic investigation of gut microbial communities in faecal samples taken at multiple time points from an individual subjected to β-lactam therapy.
The total (16S rDNA) and active (16S rRNA) microbiota, metagenome, metatranscriptome (mRNAs), metametabolome, and metaproteome of a patient undergoing antibiotic therapy for 14 days were evaluated.
|Major metabolic changes occurred at day 6|
Apparently oscillatory population dynamics were observed, with an early reduction in Gram-negative organisms (day 6) and an overall collapse in diversity and possible further colonisation by ‘presumptive’ naturally resistant bacteria (day 11), followed by the re-growth of Gram-positive species (day 14).
During this process, the maximum imbalance in the active microbial fraction occurred later (day 14) than the greatest change in the total microbial fraction, which reached a minimum biodiversity and richness on day 11.
Additionally, the team noted that major metabolic changes occurred at day 6.
The research team found that gut bacteria respond to antibiotics early by activating systems to avoid the antimicrobial effects of the drugs, while ‘presumptively’ attenuating their overall energetic metabolic status, and the capacity to transport and metabolise bile acid, cholesterol, hormones and vitamins.
The team observed that host–microbial interactions significantly improved after treatment cessation.
Dr Pérez-Cobas' team concludes, "This proof-of-concept study provides an extensive description of gut microbiota responses to follow-up β-lactam therapy."
"The results demonstrate that antibiotics targeting specific pathogenic infections and diseases may alter gut microbial ecology and interactions with host metabolism at a much higher level than previously assumed."