Antibiotic-driven intestinal dysbiosis in pediatric short bowel syndrome is associated with persistently altered microbiome functions and gut-derived bloodstream infections

Robert Thänert, Anna Thänert, Jocelyn Ou, Adam Bajinting, Carey Ann D. Burnham, Holly J. Engelstad, Maria E. Tecos, I. Malick Ndao, Carla Hall-Moore, Colleen Rouggly-Nickless, Mike A. Carl, Deborah C. Rubin, Nicholas O. Davidson, Phillip I. Tarr, Barbara B. Warner, Gautam Dantas, Brad W. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Surgical removal of the intestine, lifesaving in catastrophic gastrointestinal disorders of infancy, can result in a form of intestinal failure known as short bowel syndrome (SBS). Bloodstream infections (BSIs) are a major challenge in pediatric SBS management. BSIs require frequent antibiotic therapy, with ill-defined consequences for the gut microbiome and childhood health. Here, we combine serial stool collection, shotgun metagenomic sequencing, multivariate statistics and genome-resolved strain-tracking in a cohort of 19 patients with surgically-induced SBS to show that antibiotic-driven intestinal dysbiosis in SBS enriches for persistent intestinal colonization with BSI causative pathogens in SBS. Comparing the gut microbiome composition of SBS patients over the first 4 years of life to 19 age-matched term and 18 preterm controls, we find that SBS gut microbiota diversity and composition was persistently altered compared to controls. Commensals including Ruminococcus, Bifidobacterium, Eubacterium, and Clostridium species were depleted in SBS, while pathobionts (Enterococcus) were enriched. Integrating clinical covariates with gut microbiome composition in pediatric SBS, we identified dietary and antibiotic exposures as the main drivers of these alterations. Moreover, antibiotic resistance genes, specifically broad-spectrum efflux pumps, were at a higher abundance in SBS, while putatively beneficial microbiota functions, including amino acid and vitamin biosynthesis, were depleted. Moreover, using strain-tracking we found that the SBS gut microbiome harbors BSI causing pathogens, which can persist intestinally throughout the first years of life. The association between antibiotic-driven gut dysbiosis and enrichment of intestinal pathobionts isolated from BSI suggests that antibiotic treatment may predispose SBS patients to infection. Persistence of pathobionts and depletion of beneficial microbiota and functionalities in SBS highlights the need for microbiota-targeted interventions to prevent infection and facilitate intestinal adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1940792
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Short bowel syndrome
  • antibiotics
  • bloodstream infections
  • functional profiling
  • intestinal dysbiosis
  • microbiota
  • shotgun metagenomics
  • strain-tracking


Dive into the research topics of 'Antibiotic-driven intestinal dysbiosis in pediatric short bowel syndrome is associated with persistently altered microbiome functions and gut-derived bloodstream infections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this