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Concept: Feces


Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are among the most widely used food additives worldwide, regularly consumed by lean and obese individuals alike. NAS consumption is considered safe and beneficial owing to their low caloric content, yet supporting scientific data remain sparse and controversial. Here we demonstrate that consumption of commonly used NAS formulations drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota. These NAS-mediated deleterious metabolic effects are abrogated by antibiotic treatment, and are fully transferrable to germ-free mice upon faecal transplantation of microbiota configurations from NAS-consuming mice, or of microbiota anaerobically incubated in the presence of NAS. We identify NAS-altered microbial metabolic pathways that are linked to host susceptibility to metabolic disease, and demonstrate similar NAS-induced dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in healthy human subjects. Collectively, our results link NAS consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities, thereby calling for a reassessment of massive NAS usage.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Metabolism, Nutrition, Organism, Feces, Food additive, Sugar substitute


Early-life exposure to household pets has the capacity to reduce risk for overweight and allergic disease, especially following caesarean delivery. Since there is some evidence that pets also alter the gut microbial composition of infants, changes to the gut microbiome are putative pathways by which pet exposure can reduce these risks to health. To investigate the impact of pre- and postnatal pet exposure on infant gut microbiota following various birth scenarios, this study employed a large subsample of 746 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD) cohort, whose mothers were enrolled during pregnancy between 2009 and 2012. Participating mothers were asked to report on household pet ownership at recruitment during the second or third trimester and 3 months postpartum. Infant gut microbiota were profiled with 16S rRNA sequencing from faecal samples collected at the mean age of 3.3 months. Two categories of pet exposure (i) only during pregnancy and (ii) pre- and postnatally were compared to no pet exposure under different birth scenarios.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Allergy, 16S ribosomal RNA, Feces


Dinosaurs undoubtedly produced huge quantities of excrements. But who cleaned up after them? Dung beetles and flies with rapid development were rare during most of the Mesozoic. Candidates for these duties are extinct cockroaches (Blattulidae), whose temporal range is associated with herbivorous dinosaurs. An opportunity to test this hypothesis arises from coprolites to some extent extruded from an immature cockroach preserved in the amber of Lebanon, studied using synchrotron X-ray microtomography. 1.06% of their volume is filled by particles of wood with smooth edges, in which size distribution directly supports their external pre-digestion. Because fungal pre-processing can be excluded based on the presence of large particles (combined with small total amount of wood) and absence of damages on wood, the likely source of wood are herbivore feces. Smaller particles were broken down biochemically in the cockroach hind gut, which indicates that the recent lignin-decomposing termite and cockroach endosymbionts might have been transferred to the cockroach gut upon feeding on dinosaur feces.

Concepts: Insect, Plant, Beetle, Feces, Cretaceous, Cockroach, Dinosaur, Dung beetle


BACKGROUND: PEG-based laxatives are considered today the gold standard for the treatment of constipation in children. PEG formulations differ in terms of composition of inactive ingredients which may have an impact on acceptance, compliance and adherence to treatment. We therefore compared the efficacy, tolerability, acceptance and compliance of a new PEG-only formulation compared to a reference PEG-electrolyte (PEG-EL) formulation in resolving faecal impaction and in the treatment of chronic constipation. METHODS: Children aged 2–16 years with functional chronic constipation for at least 2 months were randomized to receive PEG-only 0.7 g/kg/day in 2 divided doses or 6.9 g PEG-EL 1–4 sachets according to age for 4 weeks. Children with faecal impaction were randomized to receive PEG-only 1.5/g/kg in 2 divided doses until resolution or for 6 days or PEG-EL with an initial dose of 4 sachets and increasing 2 sachets a day until resolution or for 7 days. RESULTS: Ninety-six children were randomized into the study. Five patients withdrew consent before starting treatment. Three children discontinued treatment for refusal due to bad taste of the product (1 PEG-only, 2 PEG-EL); 1 (PEG-EL) for an adverse effect (abdominal pain). Intent-to-treat analysis was carried out in 49 children in the PEG-only group and 42 in the PEG-EL group.No significant differences were observed between the two treatment groups at baseline.Adequate relief of constipation in terms of normalized frequency and painless defecation of soft stools was achieved in all patients in both groups. The number of stools/week was 9.2 +/- 3.2 (mean +/- SD) in the PEG-only group and 7.8 +/- 2.4 in the PEG-EL group (p = 0.025); the number of days with stool was 22.4 +/- 5.1 in the PEG-only group and 19.6 +/- 7.2 in the PEG-EL group (p = 0.034).In the PEG-only group faecaloma resolution was observed in 5 children on the second day and in 2 children on the third day, while in the PEG-EL group it was observed in 2 children on the second day, in 3 children on the third day and in 1 child on the fifth day.Only 2 patients reported mild treatment-related adverse events: 1 child in the PEG-only group had diarrhoea and vomiting and 1 child in the PEG-EL group had abdominal pain requiring treatment discontinuation. The PEG-only preparation was better tolerated as shown by the lower frequency of nausea than in the PEG-EL group.In the PEG-only group, 96% of patients did not demonstrate any difficulties associated with treatment, as compared with 52% of patients in the PEG-EL group (p < 0.001). Also, the PEG-only formulation taste was better than that of PEG-EL (p < 0.001). The difference between the percentage of subjects who took > 80% of the prescribed dose was in favour of the PEG-only group (98% vs. 88%), though it did not reach a conventional statistical level (p = 0.062). CONCLUSION: PEG-only was better tolerated and accepted than PEG-EL in children with chronic constipation. At the higher PEG doses recommended by the manufactures children in the PEG-only group had higher and more regular soft stool frequency than PEG-EL.Trial NCT01592734.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Constipation, Gastroenterology, Irritable bowel syndrome, Feces, Polyethylene glycol, Fecal impaction, Enema


BACKGROUND: This study was conducted to evaluate the faecal occurrence and characterization of Clostridium difficile in clinically healthy dogs (N¿=¿50) and in dogs with diarrhea (N¿=¿20) in the Stockholm-Uppsala region of Sweden. FINDINGS: Clostridium difficile was isolated from 2/50 healthy dogs and from 2/20 diarrheic dogs. Isolates from healthy dogs were negative for toxin A and B and for the tcdA and tcdB genes. Both isolates from diarrheic dogs were positive for toxin B and for the tcdA and tcdB genes. The C. difficile isolates from healthy dogs had PCR ribotype 009 (SE-type 6) and 010 (SE-type 3) whereas both isolates from dogs with diarrhoea had the toxigenic ribotype 014 (SE-type 21). One of the isolates from healthy dogs was initially resistant to metronidazole. CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed presence of toxigenic C. difficile in faecal samples of diarrheic dogs and low number of non- toxigenic isolates in healthy dogs from Uppsala-Stockholm region in Sweden. However, more comprehensive studies are warranted to investigate the role of C. difficile in gastrointestinal disease in dogs.

Concepts: Gut flora, Antibiotic resistance, Saccharomyces boulardii, Metronidazole, Feces, Probiotic, Clostridium difficile, Diarrhea


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an inflammatory disease of the newborn bowel, primarily affecting premature infants. Early intestinal colonization has been implicated in the pathogenesis of NEC. The objective of this prospective case-control study was to evaluate differences in the intestinal microbiota between infants who developed NEC and unaffected controls prior to disease onset. We conducted longitudinal analysis of the 16S rRNA genes of 312 samples obtained from 12 NEC cases and 26 age-matched controls with a median frequency of 7 samples per subject and median sampling interval of 3 days. We found that the microbiome undergoes dynamic development during the first two months of life with day of life being the major factor contributing to the colonization process. Depending on when the infant was diagnosed with NEC (i.e. early vs. late onset), the pattern of microbial progression was different for cases and controls. The difference in the microbiota was most overt in early onset NEC cases and controls. In proximity to NEC onset, the abundances of Clostridium sensu stricto from Clostridia class were significantly higher in early onset NEC subjects comparing to controls. In late onset NEC, Escherichia/Shigella among Gammaproteobacteria, showed an increasing pattern prior to disease onset, and was significantly higher in cases than controls six days before NEC onset. Cronobacter from Gammaproteobacteria was also significantly higher in late onset NEC cases than controls 1-3 days prior to NEC onset. Thus, the specific infectious agent associated with NEC may vary by the age of infant at disease onset. We found that intravenously administered antibiotics may have an impact on the microbial diversity present in fecal material. Longitudinal analysis at multiple time points was an important strategy utilized in this study, allowing us to appreciate the dynamics of the premature infant intestinal microbiome while approaching NEC at various points.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Epidemiology, Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA, Feces


The effects of daily dietary Bacillus subtilis (Bs), and adding L-tryptophan, fructan, or casein to fecal fermentation broths were investigated as means to reduce the production of noxious gas during manure fermentation caused by ammonia, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and 3-methylindole (skatole). Eighty swine (50.0±0.5 kg) were equally apportioned to an experimental group given Bs in daily feed, or a control group without Bs. After 6 weeks, fresh manure was collected from both groups for fermentation studies using a 3×3 orthogonal array, in which tryptophan, casein, and fructan were added at various concentrations. After fermentation, the ammonia, H2S, L-tryptophan, skatole, and microflora were measured. In both groups, L-tryptophan was the principle additive increasing skatole production, with significant correlation (r = 0.9992). L-tryptophan had no effect on the production of ammonia, H2S, or skatole in animals fed Bs. In both groups, fructan was the principle additive that reduced H2S production (r = 0.9981). Fructan and Bs significantly interacted in H2S production (p = 0.014). Casein was the principle additive affecting the concentration of ammonia, only in the control group. Casein and Bs significantly interacted in ammonia production (p = 0.039). The predominant bacteria were Bacillus spp. CWBI B1434 (26%) in the control group, and Streptococcus alactolyticus AF201899 (36%) in the experimental group. In summary, daily dietary Bs reduced ammonia production during fecal fermentation. Lessening L-tryptophan and increasing fructan in the fermentation broth reduced skatole and H2S.

Concepts: Bacteria, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Bacillus, Hydrogen sulfide, Feces, Indole, Ammonia production


Fecal transplants are increasingly utilized for treatment of recurrent infections (i.e., Clostridium difficile) in the human gut and as a general research tool for gain-of-function experiments (i.e., gavage of fecal pellets) in animal models. Changes observed in the recipient’s biology are routinely attributed to bacterial cells in the donor feces (~1011 per gram of human wet stool). Here, we examine the literature and summarize findings on the composition of fecal matter in order to raise cautiously the profile of its multipart nature. In addition to viable bacteria, which may make up a small fraction of total fecal matter, other components in unprocessed human feces include colonocytes (~107 per gram of wet stool), archaea (~108 per gram of wet stool), viruses (~108 per gram of wet stool), fungi (~106 per gram of wet stool), protists, and metabolites. Thus, while speculative at this point and contingent on the transplant procedure and study system, nonbacterial matter could contribute to changes in the recipient’s biology. There is a cautious need for continued reductionism to separate out the effects and interactions of each component.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Evolution, Feces, Human feces, Bacterial cell structure, Clostridium difficile, Night soil


The gut microbiota is found to be strongly associated with atherosclerosis (AS). Resveratrol (RSV) is a natural phytoalexin with anti-AS effects; however, its mechanisms of action remain unclear. Therefore, we sought to determine whether the anti-AS effects of RSV were related to changes in the gut microbiota. We found that RSV attenuated trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO)-induced AS in ApoE(-/-)mice. Meanwhile, RSV decreased TMAO levels by inhibiting commensal microbial trimethylamine (TMA) production via gut microbiota remodeling in mice. Moreover, RSV increased levels of the generaLactobacillusandBifidobacterium, which increased the bile salt hydrolase activity, thereby enhancing bile acid (BA) deconjugation and fecal excretion in C57BL/6J and ApoE(-/-)mice. This was associated with a decrease in ileal BA content, repression of the enterohepatic farnesoid X receptor (FXR)-fibroblast growth factor 15 (FGF15) axis, and increased cholesterol 7a-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) expression and hepatic BA neosynthesis. An FXR antagonist had the same effect on FGF15 and CYP7A1 expression as RSV, while an FXR agonist abolished RSV-induced alterations in FGF15 and CYP7A1 expression. In mice treated with antibiotics, RSV neither decreased TMAO levels nor increased hepatic BA synthesis. Additionally, RSV-induced inhibition of TMAO-caused AS was also markedly abolished by antibiotics. In conclusion, RSV attenuated TMAO-induced AS by decreasing TMAO levels and increasing hepatic BA neosynthesis via gut microbiota remodeling, and the BA neosynthesis was partially mediated through the enterohepatic FXR-FGF15 axis.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Bacteria, Gut flora, Bile, Bile acid, Steroid, Feces, Farnesoid X receptor


Aggregation of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, is regulated by fecal aggregation agents (pheromones), including volatile carboxylic acids (VCAs). We demonstrate that the gut microbial community contributes to production of these semiochemicals. Chemical analysis of the fecal extract of B. germanica revealed 40 VCAs. Feces from axenic cockroaches (no microorganisms in the alimentary tract) lacked 12 major fecal VCAs, and 24 of the remaining compounds were represented at extremely low amounts. Olfactory and aggregation bioassays demonstrated that nymphs strongly preferred the extract of control feces over the fecal extract of axenic cockroaches. Additionally, nymphs preferred a synthetic blend of 6 fecal VCAs over a solvent control or a previously identified VCA blend. To test whether gut bacteria contribute to the production of fecal aggregation agents, fecal aerobic bacteria were cultured, isolated, and identified. Inoculation of axenic cockroaches with individual bacterial taxa significantly rescued the aggregation response to the fecal extract, and inoculation with a mix of six bacterial isolates was more effective than with single isolates. The results indicate that the commensal gut microbiota contributes to production of VCAs that act as fecal aggregation agents and that cockroaches discriminate among the complex odors that emanate from a diverse microbial community. Our results highlight the pivotal role of gut bacteria in mediating insect-insect communication. Moreover, because the gut microbial community reflects the local environment, local plasticity in fecal aggregation pheromones enables colony-specific odors and fidelity to persistent aggregation sites.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Feces, Microorganism, Cockroach, Cockroaches