Blastocystis Shifts Microbiome in Asymptomatic Human Infections

In the first study of its kind, researchers in Mexico report that Blastocystis infection is associated with significant changes in the human microbiome in asymptomatic  adults.  In this study, 156 asymptomatic adult subjects from a rural population in Xoxocotla, Mexico. Colonization with Blastocystis was strongly associated with an increase in bacterial alpha diversity and broad changes in beta diversity and with more discrete changes to the microbial eukaryome. More than 230 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), including those of dominant species Prevotella copri and Ruminococcus bromii, were differentially abundant in Blastocystis-colonized individuals. Large functional changes accompanied these observations, with differential abundances of 202 (out of 266) predicted metabolic pathways (PICRUSt), as well as lower fecal concentrations of acetate, butyrate, and propionate in colonized individuals. Fecal calprotectin was markedly decreased in association with Blastocystis colonization, suggesting that this ecological shift induces subclinical immune consequences to the asymptomatic host.  The open access paper was published in M-Systems, an American Society of Microbiology journal.

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