Diet Complexity and Estrogen Receptor β Status Affect the Composition of the Murine Intestinal Microbiota Academic Article uri icon


  • Intestinal microbial dysbiosis contributes to the dysmetabolism of luminal factors, including steroid hormones (sterones) that affect the development of chronic gastrointestinal inflammation and the incidence of sterone-responsive cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. Little is known, however, about the role of specific host sterone nucleoreceptors, including estrogen receptor β (ERβ), in microbiota maintenance. Herein, we test the hypothesis that ERβ status affects microbiota composition and determine if such compositionally distinct microbiota respond differently to changes in diet complexity that favor Proteobacteria enrichment. To this end, conventionally raised female ERβ(+/+) and ERβ(-/-) C57BL/6J mice (mean age of 27 weeks) were initially reared on 8604, a complex diet containing estrogenic isoflavones, and then fed AIN-76, an isoflavone-free semisynthetic diet, for 2 weeks. 16S rRNA gene surveys revealed that the fecal microbiota of 8604-fed mice and AIN-76-fed mice differed, as expected. The relative diversity of Proteobacteria, especially the Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria, increased significantly following the transition to AIN-76. Distinct patterns for beneficial Lactobacillales were exclusive to and highly abundant among 8604-fed mice, whereas several Proteobacteria were exclusive to AIN-76-fed mice. Interestingly, representative orders of the phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes, including the Lactobacillales, also differed as a function of murine ERβ status. Overall, these interactions suggest that sterone nucleoreceptor status and diet complexity may play important roles in microbiota maintenance. Furthermore, we envision that this model for gastrointestinal dysbiosis may be used to identify novel probiotics, prebiotics, nutritional strategies, and pharmaceuticals for the prevention and resolution of Proteobacteria-rich dysbiosis.

altmetric score

  • 10.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Menon, R., Watson, S. E., Thomas, L. N., Allred, C. D., Dabney, A., Azcarate-Peril, M. A., & Sturino, J. M.

citation count

  • 82

publication date

  • July 2013