TitleArsenic exposure and intestinal microbiota in children from Sirajdikhan, Bangladesh.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDong, X, Shulzhenko, N, Lemaitre, J, Greer, RL, Peremyslova, K, Quamruzzaman, Q, Rahman, M, Ibn Hasan, OSharif, Joya, SAfroz, Golam, M, Christiani, DC, Morgun, A, Kile, ML
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2017
KeywordsArsenic, Bangladesh, Child, Preschool, Drinking Water, Drug Resistance, Microbial, Environmental Exposure, Female, Humans, Intestines, Male, Microbiota, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Water Pollutants, Chemical

BACKGROUND: Arsenic has antimicrobial properties at high doses yet few studies have examined its effect on gut microbiota. This warrants investigation since arsenic exposure increases the risk of many diseases in which gut microbiota have been shown to play a role. We examined the association between arsenic exposure from drinking water and the composition of intestinal microbiota in children exposed to low and high arsenic levels during prenatal development and early life.

RESULTS: 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that children with high arsenic exposure had a higher abundance of Proteobacteria in their stool compared to matched controls with low arsenic exposure. Furthermore, whole metagenome shotgun sequencing identified 332 bacterial SEED functions that were enriched in the high exposure group. A separate model showed that these genes, which included genes involved in virulence and multidrug resistance, were positively correlated with arsenic concentration within the group of children in the high arsenic group. We performed reference free genome assembly, and identified strains of E.coli as contributors to the arsenic enriched SEED functions. Further genome annotation of the E.coli genome revealed two strains containing two different arsenic resistance operons that are not present in the gut microbiome of a recently described European human cohort (Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract, MetaHIT). We then performed quantification by qPCR of two arsenic resistant genes (ArsB, ArsC). We observed that the expression of these two operons was higher among the children with high arsenic exposure compared to matched controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary study indicates that arsenic exposure early in life was associated with altered gut microbiota in Bangladeshi children. The enrichment of E.coli arsenic resistance genes in the high exposure group provides an insight into the possible mechanisms of how this toxic compound could affect gut microbiota.

Alternate JournalPLoS One
PubMed ID29211769
PubMed Central IDPMC5718612
Grant ListK01 ES017800 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
P30 ES000210 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
R01 ES015533 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
R01 ES023441 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States