HealthDay News — The composition of the gut microbiome is altered in patients with COVID-19, with the perturbed composition correlating with disease severity, according to a study published online in Gut.
Yun Kit Yeoh, PhD, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues obtained blood, stool, and patient records from 100 patients with laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in a 2-hospital cohort study. Up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2, serial stool samples were collected from 27 of the 100 patients. Shotgun sequencing of total DNA extracted from stools was performed to characterize gut microbiome compositions.
The researchers found that irrespective of whether patients had received medication, patients with COVID-19 had a significantly altered gut microbiome composition compared with non-COVID-19 individuals. In patients, several gut commensals with known immunomodulatory potential were underrepresented, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale, and bifidobacteria, and they remained low in samples obtained up to 30 days following resolution of disease. This altered composition showed stratification with disease severity, concordant with elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers.
“This survey of gut microbiota alterations in association with immune dysregulation revealed that gut microorganisms are likely involved in the modulation of host inflammatory responses in COVID-19,” the authors write. “These findings underscore an urgent need to understand the specific roles of gut microorganisms in human immune function and systemic inflammation.”