Differences in Systemic IgA Reactivity and Circulating Th Subsets in Healthy Volunteers With Specific Microbiota Enterotypes

Christina Grosserichter-Wagener, Djawad Radjabzadeh, Hessel van der Weide, Kyra N. Smit, Robert Kraaij, John P. Hays, Menno C. van Zelm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in the intestinal microbiota have been associated with the development of immune-mediated diseases in humans. Additionally, the introduction of defined bacterial species into the mouse intestinal microbiota has been shown to impact on the adaptive immune response. However, how much impact the intestinal microbiota composition actually has on regulating adaptive immunity remains poorly understood. Therefore, we studied aspects of the adaptive immunity in healthy adults possessing distinct intestinal microbiota profiles. The intestinal microbiota composition was determined via Illumina sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes extracted from the feces of 35 individuals. Blood B-cell and T-cell subsets from the same individuals were studied using flow cytometry. Finally, the binding of fecal and plasma Immunoglobulin A (IgA) to intestinal bacteria (associated with health and disease) Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella copri, Bifidobacterium longum, Clostridium difficile, and Escherichia coli was analyzed using ELISA. Unsupervised clustering of microbiota composition revealed the presence of three clusters within the cohort. Cluster 1 and 2 were similar to previously-described enterotypes with a predominance of Bacteroides in Cluster 1 and Prevotella in Cluster 2. The bacterial diversity (Shannon index) and bacterial richness of Cluster 3 was significantly higher than observed in Clusters 1 and 2, with the Ruminococacceae tending to predominate. Within circulating B- and T-cell subsets, only Th subsets were significantly different between groups of distinct intestinal microbiota. Individuals of Cluster 3 have significantly fewer Th17 and Th22 circulating cells, while Th17.1 cell numbers were increased in individuals of Cluster 1. IgA reactivity to intestinal bacteria was higher in plasma than feces, and individuals of Cluster 1 had significant higher plasma IgA reactivity against B. longum than individuals of Cluster 2. In conclusion, we identified three distinct fecal microbiota clusters, of which two clusters resembled previously-described "enterotypes". Global T-cell and B-cell immunity seemed unaffected, however, circulating Th subsets and plasma IgA reactivity were significantly different between Clusters. Hence, the impact of intestinal bacteria composition on human B cells, T cells and IgA reactivity appears limited in genetically-diverse and environmentally-exposed humans, but can skew antibody reactivity and Th cell subsets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number341
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • 16S sequencing
  • enterotypes
  • helper-T cells
  • IgA reactivity
  • IgA+ B cells
  • intestinal microbiota
  • γδT cells

Cite this