Enhancing gut microbiota reduces spinal cord injury pneumonia risk via gut-lung interactions

Published: 26 April 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/s82hndfzc5.1
, Yuanqing Ding


Research Hypothesis: Our research hypothesis was that enhancing the gut microbiota after spinal cord injury (SCI) could reduce the risk of pneumonia by modulating the gut-lung axis. We posited that probiotic supplementation could rebalance gut microbiota, thereby mitigating lung microbiota dysbiosis and decreasing the incidence of pneumonia in SCI patients. Data Collection and Analysis: To test our hypothesis, we conducted a series of controlled experiments using both human and mouse models. For the human study, we collected data from patients with SCI at Huashan Hospital, tracking incidences of pneumonia and analyzing gut and lung microbiota compositions through high-throughput sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. In our mouse model, SCI was surgically induced, followed by administration of specific probiotics. We monitored changes in the microbiota, the occurrence of pneumonia, and immune responses over time. Notable Findings: Gut-Lung Microbiota Similarity: Post-SCI, there was a significant increase in the similarity between gut and lung microbiota in both humans and mice, suggesting potential microbial translocation between these sites. Probiotic Supplementation: Supplementation with Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia in mice led to a marked improvement in the diversity and stability of gut microbiota. This change was associated with reduced lung microbiota dysbiosis and lower inflammation levels in the lungs. Reduction in Pneumonia Incidence: In the human cohort, SCI patients who received probiotic supplementation showed a statistically significant reduction in pneumonia incidence compared to those who did not receive probiotics. Interpretation of Data: The data supports the hypothesis that gut microbiota modulation has a protective effect against pneumonia post-SCI, likely mediated through the gut-lung axis. The observed increase in microbiota similarity between the gut and lungs post-SCI suggests that microbial translocation could be a contributing factor to lung infections. Probiotic supplementation appears to stabilize gut microbiota, which in turn may help to maintain lung microbiota balance and immune function, thereby reducing the risk of pneumonia. Usage of Data: This data can be utilized to further explore the therapeutic potential of targeting the gut microbiota in SCI patients to prevent secondary infections such as pneumonia. The findings also suggest broader applications in managing pulmonary infections by modulating gut microbiota in other patient populations susceptible to dysbiosis and immune suppression. Further research should investigate the specific mechanisms of microbial translocation and the role of individual microbial species in promoting lung health post-injury.



Huashan Hospital Fudan University




National Key Research and Development Program of China

2018AAA0100300 and 2018AAA0100302