Preterm infants with necrotising enterocolitis demonstrate individual and unbalanced gut microbiota

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Abstract

Aim:

This Lebanese study tested the hypothesis that differences would exist in the gut microbiota of preterm infants with and without necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), as reported in Western countries.

Methods:

This study compared 11 infants with NEC and 11 controls, all born at 27-35 weeks, in three neonatal intensive care units between January 2013 and March 2015. Faecal samples were collected at key time points, and microbiota was analysed by culture, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and temperature temporal gel electrophoresis (TTGE).

Results:

The cultures revealed that all preterm infants were poorly colonised and harboured no more than seven species. Prior to NEC diagnosis, significant differences were observed by qPCR with a higher colonisation by staphylococci (p = 0.034) and lower colonisations by enterococci (p = 0.039) and lactobacilli (p = 0.048) in the NEC group compared to the healthy controls. Throughout the study, virtually all of the infants were colonised by Enterobacteriaceae at high levels. TTGE analysis revealed no particular clusterisation, showing high interindividual variability.

Conclusion:

The NEC infants were poorly colonised with no more than seven species, and the controls had a more diversified and balanced gut microbiota. Understanding NEC aetiology better could lead to more effective prophylactic interventions and a reduced incidence.

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