Temporal and Spatial Changes in the Microbiome Following Pediatric Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Matthew B. Rogers, Dennis Simon, Brian Firek, Laurie Silfies, Anthony Fabio, Michael J. Bell, Andrew Yeh, Justin Azar, Richard Cheek, Patrick M. Kochanek, Shyamal D. Peddada, Michael J. Morowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The microbiome may be affected by trauma and critical illness. Many studies of the microbiome in critical illness are restricted to a single body site or time point and confounded by preexisting conditions. We report temporal and spatial alterations in the microbiome of previously healthy children with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). DESIGN We collected oral, rectal, and skin swabs within 72 hours of admission and then twice weekly until ICU discharge. Samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Children undergoing elective outpatient surgery served as controls. Alpha and beta diversity comparisons were performed with Phyloseq, and differentially abundant taxa were predicted using Analysis of Composition of Microbiomes. SETTING: Five quaternary-care PICUs. PATIENTS: Patients less than 18 years with severe TBI requiring placement of an intracranial pressure monitor. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Three hundred twenty-seven samples were analyzed from 23 children with severe TBI and 35 controls. The community composition of initial oral (F = 3.2756, R2= 0.0535, p = 0.012) and rectal (F = 3.0702, R2= 0.0649, p = 0.007) samples differed between TBI and control patients. Rectal samples were depleted of commensal bacteria from Ruminococcaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Lachnospiraceae families and enriched in Staphylococcaceae after TBI (p < 0.05). In exploratory analyses, antibiotic exposure, presence of an endotracheal tube, and occurrence of an infection were associated with greater differences of the rectal and oral microbiomes between TBI patients and healthy controls, whereas enteral nutrition was associated with smaller differences (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The microbiome of children with severe TBI is characterized by early depletion of commensal bacteria, loss of site specificity, and an enrichment of potential pathogens. Additional studies are needed to determine the impact of these changes on clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-434
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • dysbiosis
  • intensive care unit
  • microbiome
  • traumatic brain injury


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