Gut microbes contribute to variation in solid organ transplant outcomes in mice

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10.1186/s40168-018-0474-8
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Organ transplantation
Microbiome
Acute allograft rejection
Fecal microbiota transplantation
Alistipes
Abstract
Solid organ transplant recipients show heterogeneity in the occurrence and timing of acute rejection episodes. Understanding the factors responsible for such variability in patient outcomes may lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Rejection kinetics of transplanted organs mainly depends on the extent of genetic disparities between donor and recipient, but a role for environmental factors is emerging. We have recently shown that major alterations of the microbiota following broad-spectrum antibiotics, or use of germ-free animals, promoted longer skin graft survival in mice. Here, we tested whether spontaneous differences in microbial colonization between genetically similar individuals can contribute to variability in graft rejection kinetics. We compared rejection kinetics of minor mismatched skin grafts in C57BL/6 mice from Jackson Laboratory (Jax) and Taconic Farms (Tac), genetically similar animals colonized by different commensal microbes. Female Tac mice rejected skin grafts from vendor-matched males more quickly than Jax mice. We observed prolonged graft survival in Tac mice when they were exposed to Jax mice microbiome through co-housing or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) by gastric gavage. In contrast, exposure to Tac mice did not change graft rejection kinetics in Jax mice, suggesting a dominant suppressive effect of Jax microbiota. High-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons from Jax and Tac mice fecal samples confirmed a convergence of microbiota composition after cohousing or fecal transfer. Our analysis of amplicon data associated members of a single bacterial genus, Alistipes, with prolonged graft survival. Consistent with this finding, members of the genus Alistipes were absent in a separate Tac cohort, in which fecal transfer from Jax mice failed to prolong graft survival. These results demonstrate that differences in resident microbiome in healthy individuals may translate into distinct kinetics of graft rejection, and contribute to interpersonal variability in graft outcomes. The association between Alistipes and prolonged skin graft survival in mice suggests that members of this genus might affect host physiology, including at sites distal to the gastrointestinal tract. Overall, these findings allude to a potential therapeutic role for specific gut microbes to promote graft survival through the administration of probiotics, or FMT.
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© The Author(s), 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Microbiome 6 (2018): 96, doi:10.1186/s40168-018-0474-8.
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Microbiome 6 (2018): 96
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution 4.0 International