Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) exposures exert a sustained influence on the progression of gut microbiota and metabolome in the first year of life

Polly Soo Xi Yap, Chun Wie Chong, Azanna Ahmad Kamar, Ivan Kok Seng Yap, Yao Mun Choo, Nai Ming Lai, Cindy Shuan Ju Teh

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Emerging evidence has shown a link between the perturbations and development of the gut microbiota in infants with their immediate and long-term health. To better understand the assembly of the gut microbiota in preterm infants, faecal samples were longitudinally collected from the preterm (n = 19) and term (n = 20) infants from birth until month 12. 16S rRNA gene sequencing (n = 141) and metabolomics profiling (n = 141) using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy identified significant differences between groups in various time points. A panel of amino acid metabolites and central metabolism intermediates significantly correlated with the relative abundances of 8 species of bacteria were identified in the preterm group. In contrast, faecal metabolites of term infants had significantly higher levels of metabolites which are commonly found in milk such as fucose and β-hydroxybutyrate. We demonstrated that the early-life factors such as gestational age, birth weight and NICU exposures, exerted a sustained effect to the dynamics of gut microbial composition and metabolism of the neonates up to one year of age. Thus, our findings suggest that intervention at this early time could provide ‘metabolic rescue’ to preterm infants from aberrant initial gut microbial colonisation and succession.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1353
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2021

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