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Lactobacillus plantarum strain maintains growth of infant mice during chronic undernutrition

Science  19 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6275, pp. 854-857
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8588

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Microbiota and infant development

Malnutrition in children is a persistent challenge that is not always remedied by improvements in nutrition. This is because a characteristic community of gut microbes seems to mediate some of the pathology. Human gut microbes can be transplanted effectively into germ-free mice to recapitulate their associated phenotypes. Using this model, Blanton et al. found that the microbiota of healthy children relieved the harmful effects on growth caused by the microbiota of malnourished children. In infant mammals, chronic undernutrition results in growth hormone resistance and stunting. In mice, Schwarzer et al. showed that strains of Lactobacillus plantarum in the gut microbiota sustained growth hormone activity via signaling pathways in the liver, thus overcoming growth hormone resistance. Together these studies reveal that specific beneficial microbes could potentially be exploited to resolve undernutrition syndromes.

Science, this issue p. 10.1126/science.aad3311, p. 854

Abstract

In most animal species, juvenile growth is marked by an exponential gain in body weight and size. Here we show that the microbiota of infant mice sustains both weight gain and longitudinal growth when mice are fed a standard laboratory mouse diet or a nutritionally depleted diet. We found that the intestinal microbiota interacts with the somatotropic hormone axis to drive systemic growth. Using monocolonized mouse models, we showed that selected lactobacilli promoted juvenile growth in a strain-dependent manner that recapitulated the microbiota's effect on growth and the somatotropic axis. These findings show that the host's microbiota supports juvenile growth. Moreover, we discovered that lactobacilli strains buffered the adverse effects of chronic undernutrition on the postnatal growth of germ-free mice.

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