Background : Normal mammalian development and homeostasis are dependent upon the gut microbiota. Antibiotics, essential for the treatment and prophylaxis of bacterial infections, can have collateral effects on the gut microbiota composition, which can in turn have far-reaching and potentially deleterious consequences for the host. However, the magnitude and duration of such collateral effects appear to vary between individuals. Furthermore, the degree to which such perturbations affect the host response is currently unclear. We aimed to test the hypothesis that different human microbiomes have different responses to a commonly prescribed antibiotic and that these differences may impact the host response.
Methods : Germ-free mice (n = 30) humanized with the microbiota of two unrelated donors (A and B) were subjected to a 7-day antibiotic challenge with amoxicillin-clavulanate ("co-amoxiclav"). Microbiome and colonic transcriptome analysis was performed, pre (day 0) and post antibiotics (day 8) and subsequently into recovery (days 11 and 18).
Results : Unique community profiles were evident depending upon the donor, with donor A recipient mice being dominated by Prevotella and Faecalibacterium and donor B recipient mice dominated by Bacteroides and Parabacteroides. Donor A mice underwent a marked destabilization of their microbiota following antibiotic treatment, while donor B mice maintained a more stable profile. Dramatic and overlapping alterations in the host transcriptome were apparent following antibiotic challenge in both groups. Despite this overlap, donor A mice experienced a more significant alteration in gene expression and uniquely showed correlations between host pathways and key microbial genera.
Conclusions : Germ-free mice humanized by different donor microbiotas maintain distinct microbiome profiles, which respond in distinct ways to antibiotic challenge and evince host responses that parallel microbiome disequilibrium. These results suggest that inter-individual variation in the gut microbiota may contribute to personalized host responses following microbiota perturbation.