Maturation of the infant microbiome community structure and function across multiple body sites and in relation to mode of delivery

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study design
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Chu DM, Ma J, Prince AL, Antony KM, Seferovic MD, Aagaard KM
Nature medicine
Human microbial communities are characterized by their taxonomic, metagenomic and metabolic diversity, which varies by distinct body sites and influences human physiology. However, when and how microbial communities within each body niche acquire unique taxonomical and functional signatures in early life remains underexplored. We thus sought to determine the taxonomic composition and potential metabolic function of the neonatal and early infant microbiota across multiple body sites and assess the effect of the mode of delivery and its potential confounders or modifiers. A cohort of pregnant women in their early third trimester (n = 81) were prospectively enrolled for longitudinal sampling through 6 weeks after delivery, and a second matched cross-sectional cohort (n = 81) was additionally recruited for sampling once at the time of delivery. Samples across multiple body sites, including stool, oral gingiva, nares, skin and vagina were collected for each maternal-infant dyad. Whole-genome shotgun sequencing and sequencing analysis of the gene encoding the 16S rRNA were performed to interrogate the composition and function of the neonatal and maternal microbiota. We found that the neonatal microbiota and its associated functional pathways were relatively homogeneous across all body sites at delivery, with the notable exception of the neonatal meconium. However, by 6 weeks after delivery, the infant microbiota structure and function had substantially expanded and diversified, with the body site serving as the primary determinant of the composition of the bacterial community and its functional capacity. Although minor variations in the neonatal (immediately at birth) microbiota community structure were associated with the cesarean mode of delivery in some body sites (oral gingiva, nares and skin; R2 = 0.038), this was not true for neonatal stool (meconium; Mann-Whitney P > 0.05), and there was no observable difference in community function regardless of delivery mode. For infants at 6 weeks of age, the microbiota structure and function had expanded and diversified with demonstrable body site specificity (P < 0.001, R2 = 0.189) but without discernable differences in community structure or function between infants delivered vaginally or by cesarean surgery (P = 0.057, R2 = 0.007). We conclude that within the first 6 weeks of life, the infant microbiota undergoes substantial reorganization, which is primarily driven by body site and not by mode of delivery.

Experiment 1

Needs review

Curated date: 2022/03/02

Curator: Shaimaa

Revision editor(s): Lwaldron, Shaimaa, WikiWorks


Location of subjects
United States of America
Host species Species from which microbiome was sampled (if applicable)
Homo sapiens
Body site Anatomical site where microbial samples were extracted from according to the Uber Anatomy Ontology
Meconium Meconium
Condition The experimental condition / phenotype studied according to the Experimental Factor Ontology
cesarean section caesarean section,cesarean section
Group 0 name Corresponds to the control (unexposed) group for case-control studies
vaginal delivery
Group 1 name Corresponds to the case (exposed) group for case-control studies
Group 0 sample size Number of subjects in the control (unexposed) group
Group 1 sample size Number of subjects in the case (exposed) group

Lab analysis

Sequencing type
16S variable region One or more hypervariable region(s) of the bacterial 16S gene
Sequencing platform Manufacturer and experimental platform used for quantifying microbial abundance

Statistical Analysis

Statistical test
Mann-Whitney (Wilcoxon)
Significance threshold p-value or FDR threshold used for differential abundance testing (if any)
MHT correction Have statistical tests be corrected for multiple hypothesis testing (MHT)?