Increasing evidence indicates that the gut microbiota can be altered to ameliorate or prevent disease states, and engineering the gut microbiota to therapeutically modulate host metabolism is an emerging goal of microbiome research. In the intestine, bacterial urease converts host-derived urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide, contributing to hyperammonemia-associated neurotoxicity and encephalopathy in patients with liver disease. Here, we engineered murine gut microbiota to reduce urease activity. Animals were depleted of their preexisting gut microbiota and then inoculated with altered Schaedler flora (ASF), a defined consortium of 8 bacteria with minimal urease gene content. This protocol resulted in establishment of a persistent new community that promoted a long-term reduction in fecal urease activity and ammonia production. Moreover, in a murine model of hepatic injury, ASF transplantation was associated with decreased morbidity and mortality. These results provide proof of concept that inoculation of a prepared host with a defined gut microbiota can lead to durable metabolic changes with therapeutic utility.
Ting-Chin David Shen, Lindsey Albenberg, Kyle Bittinger, Christel Chehoud, Ying-Yu Chen, Colleen A. Judge, Lillian Chau, Josephine Ni, Michael Sheng, Andrew Lin, Benjamin J. Wilkins, Elizabeth L. Buza, James D. Lewis, Yevgeny Daikhin, Ilana Nissim, Marc Yudkoff, Frederic D. Bushman, Gary D. Wu
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.