Objectives: Diarrhea is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children younger than 5 years in impoverished regions of the world. Our aim was to compare the fecal microbiota of healthy children with that of children with clinical diarrhea in a population from a tropical highland in Colombia, South America. Our hypothesis was that a reduced prevalence of inherent Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species would be associated with enteric viral and bacterial pathogens.
Methods: Children between 1 and 5 years of age from 2 different locations were evaluated for presence of clinical diarrhea. Nucleic acid, isolated from fecal samples, was used to determine by molecular protocols the abundance of inherent bacterial species and presence of enteric pathogens compared with clinically healthy children. The effect of host demographic factors on incidence of diarrhea was also analyzed.
Results: The composition of the fecal microbiota was affected by host demographic factors: age, health status, location, and sex. In partial support of our hypothesis, the relative abundance of commensal Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species was inversely correlated with incidence of diarrhea regardless of location.
Conclusions: Our results suggested that changes in fecal microbiota composition of children with clinical diarrhea are associated with certain demographic factors that should be considered before designing a prophylactic intervention. Delivery of certain Lactobacillus species and Bifidobacterium species or a diet rich in bifidogenic components that promote growth of Bifidobacterium species could provide a prophylactic effect to ameliorate the effect of diarrhea in children at risk.
*US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Diet, Genomics, and Immunology Laboratory, Beltsville, MD
†Facultad de Ciencias, Departamento de Microbiologia Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia
‡US Department of Agriculture, Henry Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Biometrical Consulting Service, Beltsville, MD.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gloria Solano-Aguilar, DVM, PhD, Diet Genomics and Immunology Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, 10300 Baltimore Ave. BARC-East Bldg 307C-Rm 225, Beltsville, MD 20705 (e-mail: Gloria.SolanoAguilar@ars.usda.gov).
Received 16 August, 2011
Accepted 11 December, 2012
This study was co-funded by USDA CRIS 1235-51000-055 and Banco de la Republica (Colombia) Project No. 2391. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.