The magnitude, temporal dynamics, and physiologic effects of intestinal microbiome responses to physiologic stress are poorly characterized. This study used a systems biology approach and multiple-stressor military training environment to determine the effects of physiologic stress on intestinal microbiota composition and metabolic activity, and intestinal permeability (IP). 73 Soldiers were provided three rations/d with or without protein- or carbohydrate-based supplements during a four day cross-country ski march (STRESS). IP was measured before and during STRESS. Blood and stool samples were collected before and after STRESS to measure inflammation, stool microbiota, and stool and plasma global metabolite profiles. IP increased 62%±57% (mean±SD, P<0.001) during STRESS independent of diet group, and was associated with increased inflammation. Intestinal microbiota responses were characterized by increased α-diversity, and changes in the relative abundance of >50% of identified genera, including increased abundances of less dominant taxa at the expense of more dominant taxa such as Bacteroides. Changes in intestinal microbiota composition were linked to 23% of metabolites that were significantly altered in stool after STRESS. Pre-STRESS Actinobacteria relative abundance, and changes in serum IL-6 and stool cysteine concentrations, collectively, accounted for 84% of the variability in the change in IP. Findings demonstrate that a multiple-stressor military training environment induced increases in IP that were associated with alterations in markers of inflammation, and with intestinal microbiota composition and metabolism. Observed associations between IP, the pre-stress microbiota, and microbiota metabolites suggest targeting the intestinal microbiota could provide novel strategies for preserving IP during physiologic stress.
- gut microbiota
- gut barrier
- energy metabolism
- Copyright © 2017, American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology