Research ArticleMalnutrition

Functional characterization of IgA-targeted bacterial taxa from undernourished Malawian children that produce diet-dependent enteropathy

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Science Translational Medicine  25 Feb 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 276, pp. 276ra24
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa4877

BugFACS Inc.

In a new study, Kau et al. show that bacterial targets of gut immunoglobulin A (IgA) responses have diagnostic and therapeutic implications for childhood undernutrition. Purifying IgA-targeted microbes from fecal samples collected during the first 2 years of life from Malawian children using a method called BugFACS, these authors demonstrate that IgA responses to several types of bacteria, including Enterobacteriaceae, correlate with undernutrition. Transplanting IgA-bound bacteria from undernourished children to germ-free mice led to disruption of the gut lining (epithelium), weight loss, and sepsis in animals consuming a nutrient-deficient Malawian diet. This was prevented by a nutrient-sufficient diet or two IgA-targeted bacterial species from a healthy donor’s microbiota. Dissecting a collection of cultured IgA-targeted bacterial strains from an undernourished donor revealed that Enterobacteriaceae interacted with other community members to produce pathology. These findings have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood undernutrition.

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