A descriptive analysis of gut microbiota composition in differentially reared infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) across the first 6 months of life.
ABSTRACT: The gastrointestinal microbiome is recognized as a critical component in host immune function, physiology, and behavior. Early life experiences that alter diet and social contact also influence these outcomes. Despite the growing number of studies in this area, no studies to date have examined the contribution of early life experiences on the gut microbiome in infants across development. Such studies are important for understanding the biological and environmental factors that contribute to optimal gut microbial colonization and subsequent health. We studied infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) across the first 6 months of life that were pseudo-randomly assigned to one of two different rearing conditions at birth: mother-peer-reared (MPR), in which infants were reared in social groups with many other adults and peers and nursed on their mothers, or nursery-reared (NR), in which infants were reared by human caregivers, fed formula, and given daily social contact with peers. We analyzed the microbiome from rectal swabs (total N?=?97; MPR?=?43, NR?=?54) taken on the day of birth and at postnatal Days 14, 30, 90, and 180 using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Bacterial composition differences were evident as early as 14 days, with MPR infants exhibiting a lower abundance of Bifidobacterium and a higher abundance of Bacteroides than NR infants. The most marked differences were observed at 90 days, when Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Bacteroides, Clostridium, and Prevotella differed across rearing groups. By Day 180, no differences in the relative abundances of the bacteria of interest were observed. These novel findings in developing primate neonates indicate that the early social environment as well as diet influence gut microbiota composition very early in life. These results also lay the groundwork for mechanistic studies examining the effects of early experiences on gut microbiota across development with the ultimate goal of understanding the clinical significance of developmental changes.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The naïve neonatal gut is sensitive to early life experiences. Events during this critical developmental window may have life-long impacts on the gut microbiota. Two experiences that have been associated with variation in the gut microbiome in infancy are mode of delivery and feeding practices (eg, breastfeeding). It remains unclear whether these early experiences are responsible for microbial differences beyond toddlerhood. AIMS:Our study examined whether mode of delivery and infant feeding practices are associated with differences in the child and adolescent microbiome. DESIGN, SUBJECTS, MEASURES:We used an adoption-sibling design to compare genetically related siblings who were reared together or apart. Gut microbiome samples were collected from 73 children (M = 11 years, SD = 3 years, range = 3-18 years). Parents reported on child breastfeeding history, age, sex, height, and weight. Mode of delivery was collected through medical records and phone interviews. RESULTS:Negative binomial mixed effects models were used to identify whether mode of delivery and feeding practices were related to differences in phylum and genus-level abundance of bacteria found in the gut of child participants. Covariates included age, sex, and body mass index. Genetic relatedness and rearing environment were accounted for as random effects. We observed a significant association between lack of breastfeeding during infancy and a greater number of the genus Bacteroides in stool in childhood and adolescence. CONCLUSION:The absence of breastfeeding may impart lasting effects on the gut microbiome well into childhood.
Project description:A subset of serotonin (5-HT) pathway polymorphisms has been shown to confer risk for psychological dysfunction, particularly in individuals who experience early adversity. Understanding the developmental processes underlying these Gene x Environment interactions will strengthen the search for risk factors for behavioral dysfunction. We investigated the combined influence of two serotonin pathway polymorphisms and species-atypical, and possibly adverse, rearing (nursery rearing [NR]) on two dimensions of behavioral stress response in infant rhesus macaques. We hypothesized that the experience of NR and possession of both "high-risk" genotypes (genotypes that are thought to confer low 5-HT function) would predict the greatest behavioral stress response to maternal/social separation. Using a matched-pair design, the impact of early experience and the serotonin transporter (rh5-HTTLPR) and monoamine oxidase A (rhMAO-A-LPR) promoter polymorphisms on behavioral reactivity of 136 infant rhesus macaques (90-120 days of age) during a 25-hr social separation/relocation procedure was assessed. Each pair included one infant reared with mother in a large, outdoor field enclosure (field rearing) and one infant reared in a nursery (NR). Pairs were matched for putative gene activity of each polymorphism, sex, age, and weight at testing. Behavioral responses in a "human intruder" test were recorded, and activity and emotional reactivity composites were created to detect different aspects of psychological adaptation to stress. Our hypothesis that high-risk groups would be the most reactive to stress was not entirely borne out. Rh5-HTTLPR x rhMAOA-LPR interactions predicted emotional reactivity and tended to predict behavioral activity scores. Carriers of the two "low-risk" alleles exhibited the lowest behavioral activity, as might be predicted, but carriers of both "high-risk" alleles were two of four genotype groups exhibiting the highest observed Emotional Reactivity. Gene x Gene interactions were exacerbated by the experience of nursery rearing, as predicted, however. Finally, we suggest that genetic or environmental factors may mitigate the risk for behavioral dysregulation illustrated in the patterns of behavioral activity and emotional reactivity displayed by infants.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Gut bacteria play an essential role during infancy and are strongly influenced by the mode of birth and feeding. A primate model was used to investigate the benefits of exposure to the mother or conversely the negative impact of early nursery rearing on microbial colonization. METHOD:Rectal swabs were obtained from rhesus macaques born vaginally and mother-reared (MR, N?=?35) or delivered primarily via cesarean-section and human-reared (HR, N?=?19). Microbiome composition was determined by rRNA gene amplicon sequencing at 2, 4, and 8 weeks of age and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) orthologs used to assess influences on functional metabolic pathways in the gut. Growth trajectories and incidence of diarrheic symptoms were evaluated. RESULTS:The microbial community structure was different between MR and HR infants with respect to phylogeny and abundance at all 3 ages. When examining dominant phyla, HR infants had a higher Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratio. At the genus level, breast milk-dependent commensal taxa and adult-typical genera were more abundant in MR infants. This difference resulted in a corresponding shift in the predicted metabolic effects, specifically for microbial genes associated with metabolism and immune function. HR infants had faster growth trajectories (P?<?0.001), but more diarrheic symptoms by 6 months postnatal (P?=?0.008). CONCLUSIONS:MR infants acquired adult-typical microbiota more quickly, and had higher levels of several beneficial commensal taxa. Cesarean-delivered and formula-fed infants had different developmental trajectories of bacterial colonization. Establishment of the gut microbiome was associated with an infant's growth trajectory, and implicated in the subsequent vulnerability to Campylobacter infections associated with diarrhea in infant monkeys.
Project description:Oligosaccharides support gut development and bacterial colonization in term infants, but it is unknown if they benefit preterm infants. Using preterm pigs, we investigated effects of bovine milk supplements enriched with oligosaccharides to improve gut development and colonization. Caesarean-delivered preterm pigs (n = 57) were reared for 19 days. The pigs were fed bovine milk supplemented with an oligosaccharide-enriched whey containing sialyllactose, or a heterogeneous oligosaccharide ingredient. To evaluate the influence of artificial rearing, near-term, vaginally born pigs raised by their sow (n = 12) were compared with artificially reared, caesarean-delivered near-term pigs (n = 14). In preterm pigs, the clinical outcome, gut function, gut microbiota, and systemic immunity were similar among dietary treatments. Natural rearing increased growth rates, gut functions, colon short chain fatty acid concentrations and bacterial diversity, relative to artificial rearing. In conclusion, supplements with bovine milk oligosaccharides were well tolerated, but did not improve gut maturation or clinical outcomes in artificially reared preterm piglets. Immaturity at birth, coupled with artificial rearing, may render the neonate unresponsive to the gut-protective effects of milk oligosaccharides. Whether bovine milk oligosaccharides may affect other endpoints (e.g., brain functions) in conditions of immaturity remains to be investigated.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Studies have been inconsistent in demonstrating that early adversity and specific genotype can be joint risk factors for poor behavioral outcomes. Using a rhesus monkey model, we examined how social context and different forms of early adversity influence whether a specific genotype (polymorphism in the promoter region of monoamine oxidase A [MAOA]) affects display of aggressive, fearful, and anxious behaviors. METHODS:Rhesus monkey infants (n = 473) were exposed to brief social challenge at age 3-4 months. Infants were reared 1) with mothers and up to 150 other animals in large cages; 2) with mothers in smaller social groups; 3) with mother and access to, at most, one other mother-infant pair; and 4) without mother but with access to a same-age peer in a nursery. RESULTS:No effects of genotype were found for infants reared by mothers in large social cages, although several genotype by rearing environment interactions were evident. Animals reared in smaller social groups were more likely to display aggression, which was especially true of animals possessing the low-activity MAOA genotype. In addition, animals with low-activity genotypes that had experienced restricted mother rearing showed more anxious behavior (scratch, yawn). CONCLUSIONS:Among mother-reared animals, broader contextual features, associated with the social environment and experience of the mother, can affect the extent to which genotype contributes to behavioral expression under conditions of challenge. Results also suggest that different forms of early adverse experience can affect the types of responses displayed by animals of different genotypes.
Project description:From birth, human and nonhuman primates attend more to faces with direct gaze compared with averted gaze, and previous studies report that attention to the eyes is linked to the emergence of later social skills. Here, we explored whether early experiences influence attraction to eye contact in infant macaques by examining their attention to face pairs varying in their gaze direction across the first 13 weeks of life. Infants raised by human caretakers had limited conspecific interactions (nursery-reared; N = 16) and were compared to infants raised in rich social environments (mother-reared; N = 20). Both groups looked longer to faces and the eyes of direct compared to averted-gaze faces. Looking to all faces and eyes also increased with age. Nursery-reared infants did not display age-associated increases in attention to direct-gaze faces specifically, suggesting that, while there may be an initial preference for direct-gaze faces from birth, social experiences may support its early development.
Project description:Child-rearing environments have been associated with morbidity in adult rhesus monkeys. We examine whether such links are also seen with leukocyte telomere length.To determine telomere length in leukocytes, blood was collected from 11 adult female monkeys aged 7 to 10 years who had been exposed to different rearing environments between birth and 7 months. Four had been reared with their mothers in typical social groups composed of other female monkeys, their offspring, and 1 to 2 adult male monkeys. The other 7 had been reared in either small groups of peers or individual cages with extensive peer interaction daily. After 7 months, all shared a common environment.Telomere lengths were longer for those adults who had been reared with their mothers in social groups (median = 16.0 kb, interquartile range = 16.5-15.4) than for those who were reared without their mothers (median = 14.0 kb, interquartile range = 14.3-12.7; 2.2 kb/telomere difference, p < .027).This observation adds to emerging knowledge about early adverse child-rearing conditions and their potential for influencing later morbidity. Because newborns were randomly assigned to the mother or other rearing conditions, the findings are not confounded by other conditions that co-occur with adverse child-rearing environments in humans (e.g., prenatal stress, nutrition and health as well as postnatal nutrition and negative life experiences over and above rearing conditions).
Project description:BACKGROUND:Acquisition of the intestinal microbiota in early life corresponds with the development of the mucosal immune system. Recent work on caesarean-delivered infants revealed that early microbial composition is influenced by birthing method and environment. Furthermore, we have confirmed that early-life environment strongly influences both the adult gut microbiota and development of the gut immune system. Here, we address the impact of limiting microbial exposure after initial colonization on the development of adult gut immunity. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Piglets were born in indoor or outdoor rearing units, allowing natural colonization in the immediate period after birth, prior to transfer to high-health status isolators. Strikingly, gut closure and morphological development were strongly affected by isolator-rearing, independent of indoor or outdoor origins of piglets. Isolator-reared animals showed extensive vacuolation and disorganization of the gut epithelium, inferring that normal gut closure requires maturation factors present in maternal milk. Although morphological maturation and gut closure were delayed in isolator-reared animals, these hard-wired events occurred later in development. Type I IFN, IL-22, IL-23 and Th17 pathways were increased in indoor-isolator compared to outdoor-isolator animals during early life, indicating greater immune activation in pigs originating from indoor environments reflecting differences in the early microbiota. This difference was less apparent later in development due to enhanced immune activation and convergence of the microbiota in all isolator-reared animals. This correlated with elevation of Type I IFN pathways in both groups, although T cell pathways were still more affected in indoor-reared animals. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Environmental factors, in particular microbial exposure, influence expression of a large number of immune-related genes. However, the homeostatic effects of microbial colonization in outdoor environments require sustained microbial exposure throughout development. Gut development in high-hygiene environments negatively impacts on normal succession of the gut microbiota and promotes innate immune activation which may impair immune homeostasis.
Project description:A reliable literature finds that traits are related to each other in an organized hierarchy encompassing various conceptualizations of personality (e.g., Big Three, five-factor model). Recent work suggests the potential of a similar organization among our closest nonhuman relative, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), with significant links to neurobiology suggesting an evolutionarily and neurobiologically based hierarchical structure of personality. The current study investigated this hierarchical structure, the heritability of the various personality dimensions across levels of the hierarchy, and associations with early social rearing experience in a large sample (N = 238) of socially housed, captive chimpanzees residing in 2 independent colonies of apes. Results provide support for a hierarchical structure of personality in chimpanzees with significant associations with early rearing experiences. Further, heritabilities of the various dimensions varied by early rearing, with affective dimensions found to be significantly heritable among mother-reared apes, whereas personality dimensions were largely independent of relatedness among the nursery-reared apes. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for the influence of both genetic and environmental factors on personality profiles across levels of the hierarchy, supporting the importance of considering environmental variation in models of quantitative trait evolution.