Diversity of the gut microbiota and eczema in early life
1 Channing Laboratory Boston, MA, USA
2 Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
3 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
4 Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Dept. of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
5 Dept. of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
6 Dept. of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Clinical and Molecular Allergy 2008, 6:11 doi:10.1186/1476-7961-6-11Published: 22 September 2008
A modest number of prospective studies of the composition of the intestinal microbiota and eczema in early life have yielded conflicting results.
To examine the relationship between the bacterial diversity of the gut and the development of eczema in early life by methods other than stool culture.
Fecal samples were collected from 21 infants at 1 and 4 months of life. Nine infants were diagnosed with eczema by the age of 6 months (cases) and 12 infants were not (controls). After conducting denaturating gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of stool samples, we compared the microbial diversity of cases and controls using the number of electrophoretic bands and the Shannon index of diversity (H') as indicators.
Control subjects had significantly greater fecal microbial diversity than children with eczema at ages 1 (mean H' for controls = 0.75 vs. 0.53 for cases, P = 0.01) and 4 months (mean H' for controls = 0.92 vs. 0.59 for cases, P = 0.02). The increase in diversity from 1 to 4 months of age was significant in controls (P = 0.04) but not in children who developed eczema by 6 months of age (P = 0.32).
Our findings suggest that reduced microbial diversity is associated with the development of eczema in early life.