Microbiome Alterations Driven by Trypanosoma cruzi Infection in Two Disjunctive Murine Models

Sergio Castañeda, Marina Muñoz, Peter J. Hotez, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Alberto E. Paniz-Mondolfi, Kathryn M. Jones, Rojelio Mejia, Cristina Poveda, Juan David Ramírez

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3 Scopus citations


Alterations caused by Trypanosoma cruzi in the composition of gut microbiome may play a vital role in the host-parasite interactions that shapes physiology and immune responses against infection. Thus, a better understanding of this parasite-host-microbiome interaction may yield relevant information in the comprehension of the pathophysiology of the disease and the development of new prophylactic and therapeutic alternatives. Therefore, we implemented a murine model with two mice strains (BALB/c and C57BL/6) to evaluate the impact of Trypanosoma cruzi (Tulahuen strain) infection on the gut microbiome utilizing cytokine profiling and shotgun metagenomics. Higher parasite burdens were observed in cardiac and intestinal tissues, including changes in anti-inflammatory (interleukin-4 [IL-4] and IL-10) and proinflammatory (gamma interferon, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-6) cytokines. Bacterial species such as Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, Faecalibaculum rodentium, and Lactobacillus johnsonii showed a decrease in relative abundance, while Akkermansia muciniphila and Staphylococcus xylosus increased. Likewise, as infection progressed, there was a decrease in gene abundances related to metabolic processes such as lipid synthesis (including short-chain fatty acids) and amino acid synthesis (including branched-chain amino acids). High-quality metagenomic assembled genomes of L. johnsonii and A. muciniphila among other species were reconstructed, confirming, functional changes associated with metabolic pathways that are directly affected by the loss of abundance of specific bacterial taxa. IMPORTANCE Chagas disease (CD) is caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, presenting acute and chronic phases where cardiomyopathy, megaesophagus, and/or megacolon stand out. During the course of its life cycle, the parasite has an important gastrointestinal tract transit that leads to severe forms of CD. The intestinal microbiome plays an essential role in the immunological, physiological, and metabolic homeostasis of the host. Therefore, parasite-host-intestinal microbiome interactions may provide information on certain biological and pathophysiological aspects related to CD. The present study proposes a comprehensive evaluation of the potential effects of this interaction based on metagenomic and immunological data from two mice models with different genetic, immunological, and microbiome backgrounds. Our findings suggest that there are alterations in the immune and microbiome profiles that affect several metabolic pathways that can potentially promote the infection’s establishment, progression, and persistence. In addition, this information may prove essential in the research of new prophylactic and therapeutic alternatives for CD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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