The gut microbiota elicits a profound metabolic reorientation in the mouse jejunal mucosa during conventionalisation

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Abstract

Objective

Proper interactions between the intestinal mucosa, gut microbiota and nutrient flow are required to establish homoeostasis of the host. Since the proximal part of the small intestine is the first region where these interactions occur, and since most of the nutrient absorption occurs in the jejunum, it is important to understand the dynamics of metabolic responses of the mucosa in this intestinal region.

Design

Germ-free mice aged 8–10 weeks were conventionalised with faecal microbiota, and responses of the jejunal mucosa to bacterial colonisation were followed over a 30-day time course. Combined transcriptome, histology, 1H NMR metabonomics and microbiota phylogenetic profiling analyses were used.

Results

The jejunal mucosa showed a two-phase response to the colonising microbiota. The acute-phase response, which had already started 1 day after conventionalisation, involved repression of the cell cycle and parts of the basal metabolism. The secondary-phase response, which was consolidated during conventionalisation (days 4–30), was characterised by a metabolic shift from an oxidative energy supply to anabolic metabolism, as inferred from the tissue transcriptome and metabonome changes. Detailed transcriptome analysis identified tissue transcriptional signatures for the dynamic control of the metabolic reorientation in the jejunum. The molecular components identified in the response signatures have known roles in human metabolic disorders, including insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Conclusion

This study elucidates the dynamic jejunal response to the microbiota and supports a prominent role for the jejunum in metabolic control, including glucose and energy homoeostasis. The molecular signatures of this process may help to find risk markers in the declining insulin sensitivity seen in human type 2 diabetes mellitus, for instance.

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