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Preterm birth conditions, including hypoxia and prenatal antibiotics, impact the gut bacteria and fungi in rats more extensively than voluntary exercise


The animal gut hosts a complex community of microorganism, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, referred to as the microbiome. The composition of the microbiome is influenced by an ever-expanding number of factors including antibiotics, diet, sleep, exercise and birth route. Exercise has been shown to increase the diversity of gut communities in both animals and humans- a generalized metric of good gut health. It was hypothesized that with the introduction of exercise, the microbial community composition profile of rats previously exposed to hypoxia would shift in a healthy direction. The bacterial and fungal compositions were examined in groups of rats that were exposed to hypoxia before subgroups were given access to a running wheel for voluntary exercise. DNA was extracted from cecal contents for metagenomic shotgun sequencing. This experimental setup was also repeated in rats exposed to prenatal antibiotics in order to consider the large proportion of mothers who receive a series of antibiotics before delivery. Presented here is a multivariate analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions in the gut of rats exposed to preterm birth conditions (hypoxia and/or maternal antibiotics) to evaluate if there is measurable dysbiosis and to what extent exercise can ameliorate it. There was an observed expansion in microbial diversity in rats that voluntarily exercised, while inverse trends were observed when compounded with exposure to prenatal antibiotics. Additionally, there was a novel observation of an encompassing expansion of fungi in all rat pups that were exposed to prenatal antibiotics.

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