Schistosoma mansoni infection is associated with quantitative and qualitative modifications of the mammalian intestinal microbiota.
In spite of the extensive contribution of intestinal pathology to the pathophysiology of schistosomiasis, little is known of the impact of schistosome infection on the composition of the gut microbiota of its mammalian host. Here, we characterised the fluctuations in the composition of the gut microbial flora of the small and large intestine, as well as the changes in abundance of individual microbial species, of mice experimentally infected with Schistosoma mansoni with the goal of identifying microbial taxa with potential roles in the pathophysiology of infection and disease. Bioinformatic analyses of bacterial 16S rRNA gene data revealed an overall reduction in gut microbial alpha diversity, alongside a significant increase in microbial beta diversity characterised by expanded populations of Akkermansia muciniphila (phylum Verrucomicrobia) and lactobacilli, in the gut microbiota of S. mansoni-infected mice when compared to uninfected control animals. These data support a role of the mammalian gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of hepato-intestinal schistosomiasis and serves as a foundation for the design of mechanistic studies to unravel the complex relationships amongst parasitic helminths, gut microbiota, pathophysiology of infection and host immunity.
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