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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of neonatal intestinal microbiota in relation to the development of asthma

Carl Vael1*, Liesbeth Vanheirstraeten1, Kristine N Desager2 and Herman Goossens1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-68

Published: 10 April 2011

Abstract

Background

The extended 'hygiene hypothesis' suggests that the initial composition of the infant gut microbiota is a key determinant in the development of atopic disease. Several studies have demonstrated that the microbiota of allergic and non-allergic infants are different even before the development of symptoms, with a critical time window during the first 6 months of life. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between early intestinal colonisation and the development of asthma in the first 3 years of life using DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis).

Methods

In a prospective birth cohort, 110 children were classified according to the API (Asthma Predictive Index). A positive index included wheezing during the first three years of life combined with eczema in the child in the first years of life or with a parental history of asthma. A fecal sample was taken at the age of 3 weeks and analysed with DGGE using universal and genus specific primers.

Results

The Asthma Predictive Index was positive in 24/110 (22%) of the children. Using universal V3 primers a band corresponding to a Clostridum coccoides XIVa species was significantly associated with a positive API. A Bacteroides fragilis subgroup band was also significantly associated with a positive API. A final DGGE model, including both bands, allowed correct classification of 73% (80/110) of the cases.

Conclusion

Fecal colonisation at age 3 weeks with either a Bacteroides fragilis subgroup or a Clostridium coccoides subcluster XIVa species is an early indicator of possible asthma later in life. These findings need to be confirmed in a new longitudinal follow-up study.

Keywords:
DGGE; infant; intestinal microbiota; asthma