Research ArticleMicrobiome

Effects of a gut pathobiont in a gnotobiotic mouse model of childhood undernutrition

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Science Translational Medicine  23 Nov 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 366, pp. 366ra164
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4669

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Neighbors matter

A big unanswered question is what determines the effects of enteropathogen burden in children who are undernourished or at risk for undernutrition. In a new study, Wagner and colleagues introduce collections of sequenced gut bacterial strains cultured from healthy or underweight Bangladeshi children into germfree mice fed diets resembling those consumed by the children. The gut bacterial strains were transplanted with or without nontoxigenic or enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis strains. Addition of enterotoxigenic B. fragilis induced cachexia in the transplanted mice, and altered gene expression and metabolic activity of the transplanted bacterial strains. These effects were mitigated by cocolonization with nontoxigenic B. fragilis, illustrating the influence of intra- and interspecies interactions in determining the impact of an enteropathogen on its host.