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PLoS One. 2017 Dec 6;12(12):e0188556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188556. eCollection 2017.

Hypoxia and inactivity related physiological changes precede or take place in absence of significant rearrangements in bacterial community structure: The PlanHab randomized trial pilot study.

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Department of Animal Science, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Research Unit for Comparative Microbiome Analysis, Helmholtz Zentrum München-German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.
Department of Automation, Biocybernetics and Robotics, Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Department of Environmental Physiology, Swedish Aerospace Physiology Centre, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States of America.
Laboratory for Artificial Sight and Automation, Faculty of Electrical Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Center for Clinical Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


We explored the assembly of intestinal microbiota in healthy male participants during the randomized crossover design of run-in (5 day) and experimental phases (21-day normoxic bed rest (NBR), hypoxic bed rest (HBR) and hypoxic ambulation (HAmb) in a strictly controlled laboratory environment, with balanced fluid and dietary intakes, controlled circadian rhythm, microbial ambiental burden and 24/7 medical surveillance. The fraction of inspired O2 (FiO2) and partial pressure of inspired O2 (PiO2) were 0.209 and 133.1 ± 0.3 mmHg for NBR and 0.141 ± 0.004 and 90.0 ± 0.4 mmHg for both hypoxic variants (HBR and HAmb; ~4000 m simulated altitude), respectively. A number of parameters linked to intestinal environment such as defecation frequency, intestinal electrical conductivity (IEC), sterol and polyphenol content and diversity, indole, aromaticity and spectral characteristics of dissolved organic matter (DOM) were measured (64 variables). The structure and diversity of bacterial microbial community was assessed using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Inactivity negatively affected frequency of defecation and in combination with hypoxia increased IEC (p < 0.05). In contrast, sterol and polyphenol diversity and content, various characteristics of DOM and aromatic compounds, the structure and diversity of bacterial microbial community were not significantly affected over time. A new in-house PlanHab database was established to integrate all measured variables on host physiology, diet, experiment, immune and metabolic markers (n = 231). The observed progressive decrease in defecation frequency and concomitant increase in IEC suggested that the transition from healthy physiological state towards the developed symptoms of low magnitude obesity-related syndromes was dose dependent on the extent of time spent in inactivity and preceded or took place in absence of significant rearrangements in bacterial microbial community. Species B. thetaiotamicron, B. fragilis, B. dorei and other Bacteroides with reported relevance for dysbiotic medical conditions were significantly enriched in HBR, characterized with most severe inflammation symptoms, indicating a shift towards host mucin degradation and proinflammatory immune crosstalk.

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