Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gut microbes in healthy kids carry antibiotic resistance genes

14.11.2013
Friendly microbes in the intestinal tracts (guts) of healthy American children have numerous antibiotic resistance genes, according to results of a pilot study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The genes are cause for concern because they can be shared with harmful microbes, interfering with the effectiveness of antibiotics in ways that can contribute to serious illness and, in some cases, death.

"From birth to age 5, children receive more antibiotics than during any other five-year time span in their lives," said senior author Gautam Dantas, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology. "Frequent exposure to antibiotics accelerates the spread of antibiotic resistance. Our research highlights how important it is to only use these drugs when they are truly needed."

The results appear Nov. 13 in PLOS ONE.

With funding from the Children's Discovery Institute, the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the researchers analyzed fecal samples from 22 infants and children ranging in age from six months to 19 years. The samples were provided by Phillip Tarr, MD, the Melvin E. Carnahan Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine.

Despite the small sample size, the analysis identified 2,500 new antibiotic resistance genes, expanding the list of known antibiotic resistance genes by more than 30 percent.

"Microbes have been battling each other for millennia, regularly inventing new antibiotic synthesis genes to kill off rivals and new antibiotic resistance genes to defend themselves," Dantas said. "That microbial arms race is where this vast array of genetic resources comes from."

The scientists identified the new resistance genes by testing intestinal microbial DNA from the children against 18 antibiotics. The genes they identified impaired the effectiveness of all but four of the drugs. Many of the resistance genes were found clustered on sections of DNA that can easily jump from one microbe to another.

Babies lack microbes in their intestinal tracts at birth. Scientists have shown that infants establish their communities of gut microbes through ingestion of microorganisms from their environment – from crawling on the floor, for example, to putting toys and other objects into their mouths, to nursing and other contacts with their primary caregivers.

Dantas and his colleagues have been leaders in the development of functional metagenomics, in which scientists identify and analyze all the DNA from a microbial community. Instead of focusing either only on individual cultured organisms or computationally predicting functions from DNA sequences, researchers experimentally screen the DNA for specific functions, such as antibiotic resistance.

Dantas' primary research interest is the ecology and evolution of antibiotic resistance. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually, adding $20 billion in health-care costs. Dantas noted that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria, now causes more deaths in the United States than HIV. Scientists use the term resistome to refer to the collective antibiotic resistance genes of a microbial community.

"There were quite a few resistance genes in microbes from every child we looked at," Dantas said. "This was true even in children who were only six months old. When we compared their resistomes to those of older children, there didn't seem to be much difference."

Dantas' results, which must be confirmed through additional testing, suggest the resistome in the gut may become fixed more quickly than the distribution of species in the microbial community. The latter typically stabilizes three years after birth, but the study suggests the resistome may be set as early as six months after birth.

"This study gives us a snapshot of antibiotic resistance genes at single points in different children's lives," he said. "We're now analyzing the resistome's development via samples taken from the same children at multiple points in their lives."

Moore AM, Patel S, Forsberg KJ, Wang B, Bentley G, Razia Y, Qin X, Tarr PI, Dantas G. Pediatric fecal microbiota harbor diverse and novel antibiotic resistance genes, PLOS ONE, online Nov. 13, 2013.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>