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Enteric dysbiosis and fecal calprotectin expression in premature infants



Premature infants often develop enteric dysbiosis with a preponderance of Gammaproteobacteria, which has been related to adverse clinical outcomes. We investigated the relationship between increasing fecal Gammaproteobacteria and mucosal inflammation, measured by fecal calprotectin (FC).


Stool samples were collected from very-low-birth weight (VLBW) infants at ≤2, 3, and 4 weeks' postnatal age. Fecal microbiome was surveyed using polymerase chain reaction amplification of the V4 region of 16S ribosomal RNA, and FC was measured by enzyme immunoassay.


We enrolled 45 VLBW infants (gestation 27.9 ± 2.2 weeks, birth weight 1126 ± 208 g) and obtained stool samples at 9.9 ± 3, 20.7 ± 4.1, and 29.4 ± 4.9 days. FC was positively correlated with the genus Klebsiella (r = 0.207, p = 0.034) and its dominant amplicon sequence variant (r = 0.290, p = 0.003), but not with the relative abundance of total Gammaproteobacteria. Klebsiella colonized the gut in two distinct patterns: some infants started with low Klebsiella abundance and gained these bacteria over time, whereas others began with very high Klebsiella abundance.


In premature infants, FC correlated with relative abundance of a specific pathobiont, Klebsiella, and not with that of the class Gammaproteobacteria. These findings indicate a need to define dysbiosis at genera or higher levels of resolution.

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