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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Food Safety and Enteric Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #281860

Title: Collateral effects of antibiotics on mammalian gut microbiomes

item Looft, Torey
item Allen, Heather

Submitted to: Gut Microbes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/27/2012
Publication Date: 7/31/2012
Citation: Looft, T.P., Allen, H.K. 2012. Collateral effects of antibiotics on mammalian gut microbiomes. Gut Microbes. 3(5):463-467.

Interpretive Summary: The benefits of medical and agricultural antibiotic usage are straight-forward. However, the collateral consequences are complex and numerous. Negative side effects like the promotion of antibiotic resistance should be expected, but other changes in the host and its associated gut bacteria are harder to predict. It is important to remember that antibiotics aren’t simply impacting a desired pathogen; they are also changing the ecology within the gut. Like most ecosystem disturbances, these changes can be indirect and long-lasting. Understanding the interplay among the host, the gut microbiota, and antibiotics will inform decisions on antibiotic usage and ultimately improve human and animal health.

Technical Abstract: Antibiotics are an essential component of the modern lifestyle. They improve our lives by treating disease, preventing disease, and in the case of agricultural animals by improving feed efficiency. However, antibiotic usage is not without collateral effects. The development and spread of antibiotic resistance is the most notorious concern associated with antibiotic use. New technologies have enabled the study of how the microbiota responds to the antibiotic disturbance, including how the community recovers after the antibiotic is removed. One common theme in studies of antibiotic effects is a rapid increase Escherichia coli abundance followed by their gradual decline. Moreover, recent studies have shown additional effects mediated by antibiotics on the gut microbiota, such as the stimulation of gene transfer among gut bacteria and the reduction of immune responses in peripheral organs. Querying the microbiota after antibiotic treatment has led to intriguing hypotheses regarding predicting or mitigating unfavorable treatment outcomes. Here we explore the milieu of effects of various antibiotics on human and animal microbiotas.