Longitudinal Analysis of the Intestinal Microbiota in Liver Transplantation

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Abstract

Background

Increasing evidence suggests that the intestinal microbiota plays an important role in liver diseases. However, the dynamics of the intestinal microbiota during liver transplantation (LT) and its potential role in clinical course remain unknown.

Methods

We prospectively analyzed the intestinal microbiota of 38 patients who underwent LT in Kyoto University Hospital. We characterized the microbial compositions of fecal specimens from LT patients using a metagenomics approach by an Illumina MiSeq platform. We analyzed the diversity of microbiota sequentially from pretransplantation until 2 months after LT and also compared the microbiota during an episode of acute cellular rejection (ACR) and bloodstream infections (BSI) to the microbial composition of time-matched fecal specimens obtained from patients who did not experience ACR or BSI, respectively.

Results

Three hundred twenty fecal specimens were analyzed. Dynamic changes were observed in the microbial composition of LT recipients during the perioperative period. Over the course of LT, the mean diversity index decreased during the first 3 weeks after LT and gradually increased during our observation period. The loss of intestinal microbiota diversity was associated with high Child-Pugh scores, high model for end-stage liver disease scores, ACR, and BSI. At the family level, Bacteroides, Enterobacteriaceae, Streptococcaceae, and Bifidobacteriaceae were increased whereas Enterococcaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Clostridiaceae, Ruminococcaceae, and Peptostreptococcaceae were decreased in ACR patients.

Conclusions

The microbiota of LT patients was associated with the severity of liver diseases and the presence of ACR and BSI. These results lay the groundwork for more comprehensive investigations of microbiota characteristics to identify diagnostic markers for transplant health and to guide intervention strategies to improve transplant outcomes.

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