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PLoS One. 2014 May 12;9(5):e97048. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097048. eCollection 2014.

Aerosol Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection causes rapid loss of diversity in gut microbiota.

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Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland, United States of America.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an important human pathogen, and yet diagnosis remains challenging. Little research has focused on the impact of M. tuberculosis on the gut microbiota, despite the significant immunological and homeostatic functions of the gastrointestinal tract. To determine the effect of M. tuberculosis infection on the gut microbiota, we followed mice from M. tuberculosis aerosol infection until death, using 16S rRNA sequencing. We saw a rapid change in the gut microbiota in response to infection, with all mice showing a loss and then recovery of microbial community diversity, and found that pre-infection samples clustered separately from post-infection samples, using ecological beta-diversity measures. The effect on the fecal microbiota was observed as rapidly as six days following lung infection. Analysis of additional mice infected by a different M. tuberculosis strain corroborated these results, together demonstrating that the mouse gut microbiota significantly changes with M. tuberculosis infection.

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