Preliminary evidence for an influence of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the composition of the gut microbiota and neurodevelopment in three-year-old healthy children

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Abstract

Background: During the second and third year after birth the gut microbiota (GM) is subjected to important development. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure could influence the GM in animal and early postnatal exposure is associated with neurodevelopment disorder in children. This study was designed to explore the possible influence of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the composition of the gut microbiota (GM) and neurodevelopment in a sample of 38 healthy children at the age of 3 years. Methods: A brief development (Gesell Development Inventory, GDI) and behavior test (Child Behavior Checklist, CBCL) were completed on 3-yr-olds and stool samples were collected for 16S rRNA V4-V5 sequencing. The PAH-DNA adduct in the umbilical cord blood and the urinary hydroxyl PAHs (OH-PAHs) at the age of 12 months were measured as pre- and postnatal PAH exposure, respectively. Results: The most abundant two phyla were Bacteroidetes (68.6%) and Firmicutes (24.2%). The phyla Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Tenericutes, and Lentisphaerae were positively correlated with most domain behaviors of the GDI, whereas the Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, and Fusobacteria were negatively correlated. Correspondingly, the phyla Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Fusobacteria showed positive correlations with most CBCL core and broadband syndromes, whereas the Firmicutes, Verrucomicrobia, Synergistetes, Proteobacteria and Tenericules were negatively correlated. The OH-PAH levels were not significantly associated with the Firmicutes phylum whereas the Bacteroidetes, Bacteroidia, and Bacteroidales all showed significant negative association with the OH-PAH levels. Conclusion: The current findings suggest that composition of the GM is associated with neurodevelopment of the child. PAHs seem to change the relative abundance of some taxa (some deleted and some recruited) to counteract the negative effects of the PAHs.

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Zhang, W., Sun, Z., Zhang, Q., Sun, Z., Su, Y., Song, J., … Gao, R. (2021). Preliminary evidence for an influence of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the composition of the gut microbiota and neurodevelopment in three-year-old healthy children. BMC Pediatrics, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-021-02539-w

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