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1.  Dietary Geraniol by Oral or Enema Administration Strongly Reduces Dysbiosis and Systemic Inflammation in Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Treated Mice 
(Trans)-3,7-Dimethyl-2,6-octadien-1-ol, commonly called geraniol (Ge-OH), is an acyclic monoterpene alcohol with well-known anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, and antimicrobial properties. It is widely used as a preservative in the food industry and as an antimicrobial agent in animal farming. The present study investigated the role of Ge-OH as an anti-inflammatory and anti-dysbiotic agent in the dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis mouse model. Ge-OH was orally administered to C57BL/6 mice at daily doses of 30 and 120 mg kg(−1) body weight, starting 6 days before DSS treatment and ending the day after DSS removal. Furthermore, Ge-OH 120 mg kg(−1) dose body weight was administered via enema during the acute phase of colitis to facilitate its on-site action. The results show that orally or enema-administered Ge-OH is a powerful antimicrobial agent able to prevent colitis-associated dysbiosis and decrease the inflammatory systemic profile of colitic mice. As a whole, Ge-OH strongly improved the clinical signs of colitis and significantly reduced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in colonocytes and in the gut wall. Ge-OH could be a powerful drug for the treatment of intestinal inflammation and dysbiosis.
PMCID: PMC4776160  PMID: 26973525
geraniol; inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis; cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2); inflammation; dysbiosis
2.  ViromeScan: a new tool for metagenomic viral community profiling 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:165.
Bioinformatics tools available for metagenomic sequencing analysis are principally devoted to the identification of microorganisms populating an ecological niche, but they usually do not consider viruses. Only some software have been designed to profile the viral sequences, however they are not efficient in the characterization of viruses in the context of complex communities, like the intestinal microbiota, containing bacteria, archeabacteria, eukaryotic microorganisms and viruses. In any case, a comprehensive description of the host-microbiota interactions can not ignore the profile of eukaryotic viruses within the virome, as viruses are definitely critical for the regulation of the host immunophenotype.
ViromeScan is an innovative metagenomic analysis tool that characterizes the taxonomy of the virome directly from raw data of next-generation sequencing. The tool uses hierarchical databases for eukaryotic viruses to unambiguously assign reads to viral species more accurately and >1000 fold faster than other existing approaches. We validated ViromeScan on synthetic microbial communities and applied it on metagenomic samples of the Human Microbiome Project, providing a sensitive eukaryotic virome profiling of different human body sites.
ViromeScan allows the user to explore and taxonomically characterize the virome from metagenomic reads, efficiently denoising samples from reads of other microorganisms. This implies that users can fully characterize the microbiome, including bacteria and viruses, by shotgun metagenomic sequencing followed by different bioinformatic pipelines.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2446-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4774116  PMID: 26932765
Virome; Microbiome; Metagenomics
3.  The effect of short-chain fatty acids on human monocyte-derived dendritic cells 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16148.
The gut microbiota is essential for human health and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), such as acetate, butyrate and propionate, are end-products of microbial fermentation of macronutrients that distribute systemically via the blood. The aim of this study was to investigate the transcriptional response of immature and LPS-matured human monocyte-derived DC to SCFA. Our data revealed distinct effects exerted by each individual SCFA on gene expression in human monocyte-derived DC, especially in the mature ones. Acetate only exerted negligible effects, while both butyrate and propionate strongly modulated gene expression in both immature and mature human monocyte-derived DC. An Ingenuity pathway analysis based on the differentially expressed genes suggested that propionate and butyrate modulate leukocyte trafficking, as SCFA strongly reduced the release of several pro-inflammatory chemokines including CCL3, CCL4, CCL5, CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11. Additionally, butyrate and propionate inhibited the expression of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytokines such as IL-6 and IL-12p40 showing a strong anti-inflammatory effect. This work illustrates that bacterial metabolites far from the site of their production can differentially modulate the inflammatory response and generally provides new insights into host-microbiome interactions.
PMCID: PMC4635422  PMID: 26541096
4.  Gut Microbiome in Down Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112023.
Premature aging seriously compromises the health status of Down Syndrome (DS) persons. Since human aging has been associated with a deterioration of the gut microbiota (GM)-host mutualism, here we investigated the composition of GM in DS.
The observational study presented involved 17 adult DS persons. We characterized the GM structure by 454 pyrosequencing of the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. DS microbiome was compared with that of age-matched healthy non-trisomic adults enrolled in the same geographic area.
Results and Conclusions
The dominant GM fraction of DS persons showed an overall mutualistic immune-modulatory layout, comparable to that of healthy controls. This makes GM a possible factor counteracting the genetic determined acceleration of immune senescence in DS persons. However, we also found detectable signatures specific for DS among subdominant GM components, such as the increase of Parasporobacterium and Sutterella. In particular, the abundance of this last microorganism significantly correlated with the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) total score, allowing us to hypothesize a possible role for this microbial genus in behavioral features in DS.
PMCID: PMC4227691  PMID: 25386941
5.  From lifetime to evolution: timescales of human gut microbiota adaptation 
Human beings harbor gut microbial communities that are essential to preserve human health. Molded by the human genome, the gut microbiota (GM) is an adaptive component of the human superorganisms that allows host adaptation at different timescales, optimizing host physiology from daily life to lifespan scales and human evolutionary history. The GM continuously changes from birth up to the most extreme limits of human life, reconfiguring its metagenomic layout in response to daily variations in diet or specific host physiological and immunological needs at different ages. On the other hand, the microbiota plasticity was strategic to face changes in lifestyle and dietary habits along the course of the recent evolutionary history, that has driven the passage from Paleolithic hunter-gathering societies to Neolithic agricultural farmers to modern Westernized societies.
PMCID: PMC4219431  PMID: 25408692
gut microbiota; aging; environmental stimuli; co-evolution; biological adaptation
6.  The Three Genetics (Nuclear DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Gut Microbiome) of Longevity in Humans Considered as Metaorganisms 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:560340.
Usually the genetics of human longevity is restricted to the nuclear genome (nDNA). However it is well known that the nDNA interacts with a physically and functionally separated genome, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that, even if limited in length and number of genes encoded, plays a major role in the ageing process. The complex interplay between nDNA/mtDNA and the environment is most likely involved in phenomena such as ageing and longevity. To this scenario we have to add another level of complexity represented by the microbiota, that is, the whole set of bacteria present in the different part of our body with their whole set of genes. In particular, several studies investigated the role of gut microbiota (GM) modifications in ageing and longevity and an age-related GM signature was found. In this view, human being must be considered as “metaorganism” and a more holistic approach is necessary to grasp the complex dynamics of the interaction between the environment and nDNA-mtDNA-GM of the host during ageing. In this review, the relationship between the three genetics and human longevity is addressed to point out that a comprehensive view will allow the researchers to properly address the complex interactions that occur during human lifespan.
PMCID: PMC4017728  PMID: 24868529
7.  Longitudinal analysis of inflammation and microbiota dynamics in a model of mild chronic dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice 
AIM: To characterize longitudinally the inflammation and the gut microbiota dynamics in a mouse model of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis.
METHODS: In animal models, the most common method used to trigger colitis is based on the oral administration of the sulfated polysaccharides DSS. The murine DSS colitis model has been widely adopted to induce severe acute, chronic or semi-chronic colitis, and has been validated as an important model for the translation of mice data to human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it is now clear that models characterized by mild intestinal damage are more accurate for studying the effects of therapeutic agents. For this reason, we have developed a murine model of mild colitis to study longitudinally the inflammation and microbiota dynamics during the intestinal repair processes, and to obtain data suitable to support the recovery of gut microbiota-host homeostasis.
RESULTS: All plasma cytokines evaluated, except IL-17, began to increase (P < 0.05), after 7 d of DSS administration. IL-17 only began to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal. IL-1β and IL-17 continue to increase during the recovery phase, even when clinical signs of colitis had disappeared. IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-γ reached their maxima 4 d after DSS withdrawal and decreased during the late recovery phase. TNFα reached a peak (a three- fold increase, P < 0.05), after which it slightly decreased, only to increase again close to the end of the recovery phase. DSS administration induced profound and rapid changes in the mice gut microbiota. After 3 d of DSS administration, we observed a major reduction in Bacteroidetes/Prevotella and a corresponding increase in Bacillaceae, with respect to control mice. In particular, Bacteroidetes/Prevotella decreased from a relative abundance of 59.42%-33.05%, while Bacillaceae showed a concomitant increase from 2.77% to 10.52%. Gut microbiota rapidly shifted toward a healthy profile during the recovery phase and returned normal 4 d after DSS withdrawal. Cyclooxygenase 2 expression started to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal (P < 0.05), when dysbiosis had recovered, and continued to increase during the recovery phase. Taken together, these data indicated that a chronic phase of intestinal inflammation, characterized by the absence of dysbiosis, could be obtained in mice using a single DSS cycle.
CONCLUSION: Dysbiosis contributes to the local and systemic inflammation that occurs in the DSS model of colitis; however, chronic bowel inflammation is maintained even after recovery from dysbiosis.
PMCID: PMC3934475  PMID: 24587679
Colitis, Dysbiosis; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammation; Cyclooxygenase 2
8.  Inflammation and colorectal cancer, when microbiota-host mutualism breaks 
Structural changes in the gut microbial community have been shown to accompany the progressive development of colorectal cancer. In this review we discuss recent hypotheses on the mechanisms involved in the bacteria-mediated carcinogenesis, as well as the triggering factors favoring the shift of the gut microbiota from a mutualistic to a pro-carcinogenic configuration. The possible role of inflammation, bacterial toxins and toxic microbiota metabolites in colorectal cancer onset is specifically discussed. On the other hand, the strategic role of inflammation as the keystone factor in driving microbiota to become carcinogenic is suggested. As a common outcome of different environmental and endogenous triggers, such as diet, aging, pathogen infection or genetic predisposition, inflammation can compromise the microbiota-host mutualism, forcing the increase of pathobionts at the expense of health-promoting groups, and allowing the microbiota to acquire an overall pro-inflammatory configuration. Consolidating inflammation in the gut, and favoring the bloom of toxigenic bacterial drivers, these changes in the gut microbial ecosystem have been suggested as pivotal in promoting carcinogenesis. In this context, it will become of primary importance to implement dietary or probiotics-based interventions aimed at preserving the microbiota-host mutualism along aging, counteracting deviations that favor a pro-carcinogenic microbiota asset.
PMCID: PMC3921544  PMID: 24574765
Colorectal cancer; Inflammation; Gut microbiome; Co-abundance groups
9.  Functional metagenomic profiling of intestinal microbiome in extreme ageing 
Aging (Albany NY)  2013;5(12):902-912.
Age-related alterations in human gut microbiota composition have been thoroughly described, but a detailed functional description of the intestinal bacterial coding capacity is still missing. In order to elucidate the contribution of the gut metagenome to the complex mosaic of human longevity, we applied shotgun sequencing to total fecal bacterial DNA in a selection of samples belonging to a well-characterized human ageing cohort. The age-related trajectory of the human gut microbiome was characterized by loss of genes for shortchain fatty acid production and an overall decrease in the saccharolytic potential, while proteolytic functions were more abundant than in the intestinal metagenome of younger adults. This altered functional profile was associated with a relevant enrichment in “pathobionts”, i.e. opportunistic pro-inflammatory bacteria generally present in the adult gut ecosystem in low numbers. Finally, as a signature for long life we identified 116 microbial genes that significantly correlated with ageing. Collectively, our data emphasize the relationship between intestinal bacteria and human metabolism, by detailing the modifications in the gut microbiota as a consequence of and/or promoter of the physiological changes occurring in the human host upon ageing.
PMCID: PMC3883706  PMID: 24334635
centenarians; extreme-aging; gut microbiome
10.  The Enterocyte-Associated Intestinal Microbiota of Breast-Fed Infants and Adults Responds Differently to a TNF-α-Mediated Pro-Inflammatory Stimulus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81762.
Co-evolved as an integral component of our immune system, the gut microbiota provides specific immunological services at different ages, supporting the immune education during our infancy and sustaining a well-balanced immunological homeostasis during the course of our life. In order to figure out whether this involves differences in the microbial groups primarily interacting with the host immune system, we developed a non-invasive HT29 cell-based minimal model to fingerprint the enterocyte-associated microbiota fraction in infants and adults. After depicting the fecal microbial community of 12 breast-fed infants and 6 adults by 16S rDNA amplicon pools 454 pyrosequencing, their respective HT29 cell-associated gut microbiota fractions were characterized by the universal phylogenetic array platform HTF-Microbi.Array, both in the presence and absence of a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)-mediated pro-inflammatory stimulus. Our data revealed remarkable differences between the enterocyte-associated microbiota fractions in breast-fed infants and adults, being dominated by Bifidobacterium and Enterobacteriaceae the first and Bacteroides-Prevotella and Clostridium clusters IV and XIVa the second. While in adults TNF-α resulted in a profound impairment of the structure of the enterocyte-associated microbiota fraction, in infants it remained unaffected. Differently from the adult-type gut microbial community, the infant-type microbiota is structured to cope with inflammation, being co-evolved to prime the early immune response by means of transient inflammatory signals from gut microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC3841132  PMID: 24303069
11.  Dietary supplementation with probiotics during late pregnancy: outcome on vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:236.
The vaginal microbiota of healthy women consists of a wide variety of anaerobic and aerobic bacterial genera and species dominated by the genus Lactobacillus. The activity of lactobacilli helps to maintain the natural healthy balance of the vaginal microbiota. This role is particularly important during pregnancy because vaginal dismicrobism is one of the most important mechanisms for preterm birth and perinatal complications. In the present study, we characterized the impact of a dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3, a mixture of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains, on the vaginal microbiota and immunological profiles of healthy women during late pregnancy.
An association between the oral intake of the probiotic VSL#3 and changes in the composition of the vaginal microbiota of pregnant women was revealed by PCR-DGGE population profiling. Despite no significant changes were found in the amounts of the principal vaginal bacterial populations in women administered with VSL#3, qPCR results suggested a potential role of the probiotic product in counteracting the decrease of Bifidobacterium and the increase of Atopobium, that occurred in control women during late pregnancy. The modulation of the vaginal microbiota was associated with significant changes in some vaginal cytokines. In particular, the decrease of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 was observed only in control women but not in women supplemented with VSL#3. In addition, the probiotic consumption induced the decrease of the pro-inflammatory chemokine Eotaxin, suggesting a potential anti-inflammatory effect on the vaginal immunity.
Dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3 during the last trimester of pregnancy was associated to a modulation of the vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion, with potential implications in preventing preterm birth.
Trial registration NCT01367470
PMCID: PMC3493352  PMID: 23078375
12.  Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Modulates the Dynamics of the Plasminogen-Mediated Early Interaction between Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and Human Enterocytes 
The capacity to intervene with the host plasminogen system has recently been considered an important component in the interaction process between Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and the human host. However, its significance in the bifidobacterial microecology within the human gastrointestinal tract is still an open question. Here we demonstrate that human plasminogen favors the B. animalis subsp. lactis BI07 adhesion to HT29 cells. Prompting the HT29 cell capacity to activate plasminogen, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) modulated the plasminogen-mediated bacterium-enterocyte interaction, reducing the bacterial adhesion to the enterocytes and enhancing migration to the luminal compartment.
PMCID: PMC3302587  PMID: 22287006
13.  Unbalance of intestinal microbiota in atopic children 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:95.
Playing a strategic role in the host immune function, the intestinal microbiota has been recently hypothesized to be involved in the etiology of atopy. In order to investigate the gastrointestinal microbial ecology of atopic disease, here we performed a pilot comparative molecular analysis of the faecal microbiota in atopic children and healthy controls.
Nineteen atopic children and 12 healthy controls aged 4–14 years were enrolled. Stools were collected and the faecal microbiota was characterized by means of the already developed phylogenetic microarray platform, HTF-Microbi.Array, and quantitative PCR. The intestinal microbiota of atopic children showed a significant depletion in members of the Clostridium cluster IV, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and a corresponding increase of the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae.
Depleted in key immunomodulatory symbionts, the atopy-associated microbiota can represent an inflammogenic microbial consortium which can contribute to the severity of the disease. Our data open the way to the therapeutic manipulation of the intestinal microbiota in the treatment of atopy by means of pharmaceutical probiotics.
PMCID: PMC3404014  PMID: 22672413
14.  Relevance of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Plasminogen Binding Activity in the Human Gastrointestinal Microenvironment ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(19):7072-7076.
Human plasmin(ogen) is regarded as a component of the molecular cross talk between the probiotic species Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and the human host. However, up to now, only in vitro studies have been reported. Here, we demonstrate that the probiotic strain B. animalis subsp. lactis BI07 is capable of recruiting plasmin(ogen) present at physiological concentrations in crude extracts from human feces. Our results provide evidence that supports the significance of the B. lactis-plasmin(ogen) interaction in the human gastrointestinal tract.
PMCID: PMC3187096  PMID: 21821753
15.  Ageing of the human metaorganism: the microbial counterpart 
Age  2011;34(1):247-267.
Human beings have been recently reviewed as ‘metaorganisms’ as a result of a close symbiotic relationship with the intestinal microbiota. This assumption imposes a more holistic view of the ageing process where dynamics of the interaction between environment, intestinal microbiota and host must be taken into consideration. Age-related physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as modification in lifestyle, nutritional behaviour, and functionality of the host immune system, inevitably affect the gut microbial ecosystem. Here we review the current knowledge of the changes occurring in the gut microbiota of old people, especially in the light of the most recent applications of the modern molecular characterisation techniques. The hypothetical involvement of the age-related gut microbiota unbalances in the inflamm-aging, and immunosenescence processes will also be discussed. Increasing evidence of the importance of the gut microbiota homeostasis for the host health has led to the consideration of medical/nutritional applications of this knowledge through the development of probiotic and prebiotic preparations specific for the aged population. The results of the few intervention trials reporting the use of pro/prebiotics in clinical conditions typical of the elderly will be critically reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3260362  PMID: 21347607
Ageing; Intestinal microbiota; Probiotics; Prebiotics
16.  Oxalate-Degrading Activity in Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis: Impact of Acidic Conditions on the Transcriptional Levels of the Oxalyl Coenzyme A (CoA) Decarboxylase and Formyl-CoA Transferase Genes ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(16):5609-5620.
Oxalic acid occurs extensively in nature and plays diverse roles, especially in pathological processes. Due to its highly oxidizing effects, hyperabsorption or abnormal synthesis of oxalate can cause serious acute disorders in mammals and can be lethal in extreme cases. Intestinal oxalate-degrading bacteria could therefore be pivotal in maintaining oxalate homeostasis and reducing the risk of kidney stone development. In this study, the oxalate-degrading activities of 14 bifidobacterial strains were measured by a capillary electrophoresis technique. The oxc gene, encoding oxalyl-coenzyme A (CoA) decarboxylase, a key enzyme in oxalate catabolism, was isolated by probing a genomic library of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BI07, which was one of the most active strains in the preliminary screening. The genetic and transcriptional organization of oxc flanking regions was determined, unraveling the presence of two other independently transcribed open reading frames, potentially responsible for the ability of B. animalis subsp. lactis to degrade oxalate. pH-controlled batch fermentations revealed that acidic conditions were a prerequisite for a significant oxalate degradation rate, which dramatically increased in cells first adapted to subinhibitory concentrations of oxalate and then exposed to pH 4.5. Oxalate-preadapted cells also showed a strong induction of the genes potentially involved in oxalate catabolism, as demonstrated by a transcriptional analysis using quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR. These findings provide new insights into the characterization of oxalate-degrading probiotic bacteria and may support the use of B. animalis subsp. lactis as a promising adjunct for the prophylaxis and management of oxalate-related kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC2918965  PMID: 20601517
17.  Correction: Through Ageing, and Beyond: Gut Microbiota and Inflammatory Status in Seniors and Centenarians 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):10.1371/annotation/df45912f-d15c-44ab-8312-e7ec0607604d.
PMCID: PMC2884025
18.  Through Ageing, and Beyond: Gut Microbiota and Inflammatory Status in Seniors and Centenarians 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10667.
Age-related physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as modifications in lifestyle, nutritional behaviour, and functionality of the host immune system, inevitably affect the gut microbiota, resulting in a greater susceptibility to infections.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By using the Human Intestinal Tract Chip (HITChip) and quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea, we explored the age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition among young adults, elderly, and centenarians, i.e subjects who reached the extreme limits of the human lifespan, living for over 100 years. We observed that the microbial composition and diversity of the gut ecosystem of young adults and seventy-years old people is highly similar but differs significantly from that of the centenarians. After 100 years of symbiotic association with the human host, the microbiota is characterized by a rearrangement in the Firmicutes population and an enrichment in facultative anaerobes, notably pathobionts. The presence of such a compromised microbiota in the centenarians is associated with an increased inflammatory status, also known as inflammageing, as determined by a range of peripheral blood inflammatory markers. This may be explained by a remodelling of the centenarians' microbiota, with a marked decrease in Faecalibacterium prauznitzii and relatives, symbiotic species with reported anti-inflammatory properties. As signature bacteria of the long life we identified specifically Eubacterium limosum and relatives that were more than ten-fold increased in the centenarians.
We provide evidence for the fact that the ageing process deeply affects the structure of the human gut microbiota, as well as its homeostasis with the host's immune system. Because of its crucial role in the host physiology and health status, age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition may be related to the progression of diseases and frailty in the elderly population.
PMCID: PMC2871786  PMID: 20498852
19.  High taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota by Ligase Detection Reaction - Universal Array approach 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:116.
Affecting the core functional microbiome, peculiar high level taxonomic unbalances of the human intestinal microbiota have been recently associated with specific diseases, such as obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, and intestinal inflammation.
In order to specifically monitor microbiota unbalances that impact human physiology, here we develop and validate an original DNA-microarray (HTF-Microbi.Array) for the high taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota. Based on the Ligase Detection Reaction-Universal Array (LDR-UA) approach, the HTF-Microbi.Array enables specific detection and approximate relative quantification of 16S rRNAs from 30 phylogenetically related groups of the human intestinal microbiota. The HTF-Microbi.Array was used in a pilot study of the faecal microbiota of eight young adults. Cluster analysis revealed the good reproducibility of the high level taxonomic microbiota fingerprint obtained for each of the subject.
The HTF-Microbi.Array is a fast and sensitive tool for the high taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota in terms of presence/absence of the principal groups. Moreover, analysis of the relative fluorescence intensity for each probe pair of our LDR-UA platform can provide estimation of the relative abundance of the microbial target groups within each samples. Focusing the phylogenetic resolution at division, order and cluster levels, the HTF-Microbi.Array is blind with respect to the inter-individual variability at the species level.
PMCID: PMC2873488  PMID: 20398430
20.  Antibiotics and probiotics in chronic pouchitis: A comparative proteomic approach 
AIM: To profile protein expression in mucosal biopsies from patients with chronic refractory pouchitis following antibiotic or probiotic treatment, using a comparative proteomic approach.
METHODS: Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry were used to characterize the changes related to antibiotic therapy in the protein expression profiles of biopsy samples from patients with chronic refractory pouchitis. The same proteomic approach was applied to identify differentially expressed proteins in the non-inflamed pouch before and after probiotic administration.
RESULTS: In the first set of 2D gels, 26 different proteins with at least 2-fold changes in their expression levels between the pouchitis condition and antibiotic-induced remission were identified. In the second set of analysis, the comparison between mucosal biopsy proteomes in the normal and probiotic-treated pouch resulted in 17 significantly differently expressed proteins. Of these, 8 exhibited the same pattern of deregulation as in the pouchitis/pouch remission group.
CONCLUSION: For the first time, 2D protein maps of mucosal biopsies from patients with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis were provided, and differentially expressed proteins following antibiotic/probiotic treatment were identified.
PMCID: PMC2799914  PMID: 20039446
Chronic disease; Pouchitis; Antibiotics; Probiotics; Proteins; Gene expression
21.  Impact of a synbiotic food on the gut microbial ecology and metabolic profiles 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:4.
The human gut harbors a diverse community of microorganisms which serve numerous important functions for the host wellbeing. Functional foods are commonly used to modulate the composition of the gut microbiota contributing to the maintenance of the host health or prevention of disease. In the present study, we characterized the impact of one month intake of a synbiotic food, containing fructooligosaccharides and the probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus Bar13 and Bifidobacterium longum Bar33, on the gut microbiota composition and metabolic profiles of 20 healthy subjects.
The synbiotic food did not modify the overall structure of the gut microbiome, as indicated by Polymerase Chain Reaction-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE). The ability of the probiotic L. helveticus and B. longum strains to pass through the gastrointestinal tract was hypothesized on the basis of real-time PCR data. In spite of a stable microbiota, the intake of the synbiotic food resulted in a shift of the fecal metabolic profiles, highlighted by the Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Solid Phase Micro-Extraction (GC-MS/SPME) analysis. The extent of short chain fatty acids (SCFA), ketones, carbon disulfide and methyl acetate was significantly affected by the synbiotic food consumption. Furthermore, the Canonical discriminant Analysis of Principal coordinates (CAP) of GC-MS/SPME profiles allowed a separation of the stool samples recovered before and after the consumption of the functional food.
In this study we investigated the global impact of a dietary intervention on the gut ecology and metabolism in healthy humans. We demonstrated that the intake of a synbiotic food leads to a modulation of the gut metabolic activities with a maintenance of the gut biostructure. In particular, the significant increase of SCFA, ketones, carbon disulfide and methyl acetate following the feeding period suggests potential health promoting effects of the synbiotic food.
PMCID: PMC2806344  PMID: 20055983
22.  Surface displaced alfa-enolase of Lactobacillus plantarum is a fibronectin binding protein 
Lactic acid bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are one of the most important health promoting groups of the human intestinal microbiota. Their protective role within the gut consists in out competing invading pathogens for ecological niches and metabolic substrates. Among the features necessary to provide health benefits, commensal microorganisms must have the ability to adhere to human intestinal cells and consequently to colonize the gut. Studies on mechanisms mediating adhesion of lactobacilli to human intestinal cells showed that factors involved in the interaction vary mostly among different species and strains, mainly regarding interaction between bacterial adhesins and extracellular matrix or mucus proteins. We have investigated the adhesive properties of Lactobacillus plantarum, a member of the human microbiota of healthy individuals.
We show the identification of a Lactobacillus plantarum LM3 cell surface protein (48 kDa), which specifically binds to human fibronectin (Fn), an extracellular matrix protein. By means of mass spectrometric analysis this protein was identified as the product of the L. plantarum enoA1 gene, coding the EnoA1 alfa-enolase. Surface localization of EnoA1 was proved by immune electron microscopy. In the mutant strain LM3-CC1, carrying the enoA1 null mutation, the 48 kDa adhesin was not anymore detectable neither by anti-enolase Western blot nor by Fn-overlay immunoblotting assay. Moreover, by an adhesion assay we show that LM3-CC1 cells bind to fibronectin-coated surfaces less efficiently than wild type cells, thus demonstrating the significance of the surface displaced EnoA1 protein for the L. plantarum LM3 adhesion to fibronectin.
Adhesion to host tissues represents a crucial early step in the colonization process of either pathogens or commensal bacteria. We demonstrated the involvement of the L. plantarum Eno A1 alfa-enolase in Fn-binding, by studying LM3 and LM3-CC1 surface proteins. Isolation of LM3-CC1 strain was possible for the presence of expressed enoA2 gene in the L. plantarum genome, giving the possibility, for the first time to our knowledge, to quantitatively compare adhesion of wild type and mutant strain, and to assess doubtless the role of L. plantarum Eno A1 as a fibronectin binding protein.
PMCID: PMC2654425  PMID: 19220903
23.  Dynamics of Vaginal Bacterial Communities in Women Developing Bacterial Vaginosis, Candidiasis, or No Infection, Analyzed by PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis and Real-Time PCR▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(18):5731-5741.
The microbial flora of the vagina plays a major role in preventing genital infections, including bacterial vaginosis (BV) and candidiasis (CA). An integrated approach based on PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) and real-time PCR was used to study the structure and dynamics of bacterial communities in vaginal fluids of healthy women and patients developing BV and CA. Universal eubacterial primers and Lactobacillus genus-specific primers, both targeted at 16S rRNA genes, were used in DGGE and real-time PCR analysis, respectively. The DGGE profiles revealed that the vaginal flora was dominated by Lactobacillus species under healthy conditions, whereas several potentially pathogenic bacteria were present in the flora of women with BV. Lactobacilli were the predominant bacterial population in the vagina for patients affected by CA, but changes in the composition of Lactobacillus species were observed. Real-time PCR analysis allowed the quantitative estimation of variations in lactobacilli associated with BV and CA diseases. A statistically significant decrease in the relative abundance of lactobacilli was found in vaginal fluids of patients with BV compared to the relative abundance of lactobacilli in the vaginal fluids of healthy women and patients with CA.
PMCID: PMC2074899  PMID: 17644631
24.  Binding of Human Plasminogen to Bifidobacterium▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(16):5929-5936.
Bifidobacteria constitute up to 3% of the total microbiota and represent one of the most important health-promoting bacterial groups of the human intestinal microflora. The presence of Bifidobacterium in the human gastrointestinal tract has been directly related to several health-promoting activities; however, to date, no information about the specific mechanisms of interaction with the host is available. In order to provide some insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in the interaction with the host, we investigated whether Bifidobacterium was able to capture human plasminogen on the cell surface. By using flow cytometry, we demonstrated a dose-dependent human plasminogen-binding activity for four strains belonging to three bifidobacterial species: Bifidobacterium lactis, B. bifidum, and B. longum. The binding of human plasminogen to Bifidobacterium was dependent on lysine residues of surface protein receptors. By using a proteomic approach, we identified five putative plasminogen-binding proteins in the cell wall fraction of the model strain B. lactis BI07. The data suggest that plasminogen binding to B. lactis is due to the concerted action of a number of proteins located on the bacterial cell surface, some of which are highly conserved cytoplasmic proteins which have other essential cellular functions. Our findings represent a step forward in understanding the mechanisms involved in the Bifidobacterium-host interaction.
PMCID: PMC1952040  PMID: 17557824
25.  Gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3654.
Human gut microbiota directly influences health and provides an extra means of adaptive potential to different lifestyles. To explore variation in gut microbiota and to understand how these bacteria may have co-evolved with humans, here we investigate the phylogenetic diversity and metabolite production of the gut microbiota from a community of human hunter-gatherers, the Hadza of Tanzania. We show that the Hadza have higher levels of microbial richness and biodiversity than Italian urban controls. Further comparisons with two rural farming African groups illustrate other features unique to Hadza that can be linked to a foraging lifestyle. These include absence of Bifidobacterium and differences in microbial composition between the sexes that probably reflect sexual division of labour. Furthermore, enrichment in Prevotella, Treponema and unclassified Bacteroidetes, as well as a peculiar arrangement of Clostridiales taxa, may enhance the Hadza’s ability to digest and extract valuable nutrition from fibrous plant foods.
Gut microbes influence our health and may contribute to human adaptation to different lifestyles. Here, the authors describe the gut microbiome of a community of hunter-gatherers and identify unique features that could be linked to a foraging lifestyle.
PMCID: PMC3996546  PMID: 24736369

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