Mixed Viral-Bacterial Infections and Their Effects on Gut Microbiota and Clinical Illnesses in Children.
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Acute gastroenteritis remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality among young children worldwide. It accounts for approximately 1.34 million deaths annually in children younger than five years. Infection can be caused by viral, bacterial and/or parasitic microorganisms. Dysbiosis due to such infections could dramatically affect disease prognosis as well as development of chronic illness. The aim of this study was to analyze gut microbiome and clinical outcomes in young children suffering from viral or mixed viral-bacterial infection. We evaluated gut microbiota composition in children suffering from viral or mixed viral-bacterial infection with two major viruses rotavirus (RV) and norovirus (NoV) and two pathogenic bacteria [Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), and Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC)]. We sequenced 16S ribosomal RNA (V4 region) genes using Illumina MiSeq in 70 hospitalized children suffering from gastroenteric infections plus nine healthy controls. The study summarized Operational Taxonomic Unit (OTU) abundances with the Bray-Curtis index and performed a non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis to visualize microbiome similarities. We used a permutational multivariate analyses of variance to test the significance of group differences. We also analyzed the correlation between microbiome changes and clinical outcomes. Our data demonstrated a significant increase in the severity score in children with viral-bacterial mixed infections compared to those with virus infections alone. Statistical analysis by overall relative abundance denoted lesser proportions of Bacteroides in the infected children, whereas Bifidobacteriaceae richness was more prominent in the bacterial-viral mixed infections. Pairwise differences of gut microbiota were significantly higher in RV + EAEC (P = 0.009) and NoV + EAEC (P = 0.009) co-infections, compared to EPEC mixed infection with both, RV (P = 0.045) and NoV (P = 0.188). Shannon diversity index showed considerable more variation in microbiome diversity in children infected with RV cohort compared to NoV cohort. Our results highlight that richness of Bifidobacteriaceae, which acts as probiotics, increased with the severity of the viral-bacterial mixed infections. As expected, significant reduction of relative numbers of Bacteroides was characterized in both RV and NoV infections, with more reduction observed in co-infection pathogenic E. coli. Although mixed infection with EAEC resulted in significant microbiota differences compared to viral infection only or mixed infection with EPEC, the clinical condition of the children were worsened with both pathogenic E.coli co-infections. Further, in comparison with RV cohort, augmented number of differential abundant pathogenic OTUs were peculiarly noticed only with NoV mixed infection.
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