Certain Antibiotics Could Affect Gut Microbiome for 1 Year — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
November 15, 2015

Certain Antibiotics Could Affect Gut Microbiome for 1 Year

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

Gut microbial diversity may be diminished for up to a year following oral antibiotic use, suggests a small, industry-conducted study published in mBio.

Sixty-six healthy participants in the U.K. and Sweden were randomized to receive placebo or an antibiotic (clindamycin, amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, or minocycline). They provided saliva and fecal samples before and after receiving antibiotics.

Over the long term, the salivary microbiome was largely undisturbed by antibiotic administration. Meanwhile, microbiome diversity in fecal samples was reduced for up to 4 months in patients receiving clindamycin and up to 12 months in those receiving ciprofloxacin. Specifically, bacteria that produce the short-chain fatty acid butyrate — which is linked to lower inflammation, carcinogenesis, and oxidative stress in the gut — were significantly reduced.

In addition, genetic testing found more genes associated with antibiotic resistance in the fecal samples.

The authors conclude: "Clearly, even a single antibiotic treatment in healthy individuals contributes to the risk of resistance development and leads to long-lasting detrimental shifts in the gut microbiome."

Reader Comments (3)

victor kantariya Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

The ecosystem within: each person has approximately 30 trillion human cells and hosts 100 trillion bacterial and fungal cells. Human genomes encode for 23,000genes, but 3,3 million encoded by genomes for bacteria, viruses in the gut. "The Future of humanity and microbes will likely evolves...episodes of our wits vs their genes"by Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg. Bacteria are smarter than human, maybe?

Glenn Wielenga MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

This seems to be very important information, especially as today's probiotics don't seem to replace the specific beneficial gut bacteria missing after antibiotic therapy. However, in reading the original study I could find nowhere what exactly the treatment with antibiotics entailed. Are we talking large dose or low dose? 3 or 7 or 10 day or even longer treatment durations? With food or not? This would seem to be important information to provide to readers, as simply stating "standard treatment" could mean anything, depending on the situations in which we use antibiotics in practice. Please provide the actual antibiotic treatments given to study participants to increase relevancy of the study for physicians and dentists. And of course it is important to note that the study does not prove or even suggest actual harm to patients being given antibiotics for appropriate reasons; but it is another warning for us to think carefully before prescribing antibiotics to anyone.

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