The cecal and fecal microbiomes and metabolomes of horses before and after metronidazole administration. Academic Article uri icon


  • Antibiotic administration can be a cause of gastrointestinal disease in horses, creating a disruption in the normal population and function of bacteria found in the hindgut. The objective of this study was to describe the changes in the cecal and fecal microbiomes and metabolomes of clinically healthy horses before and after metronidazole administration. Metronidazole (15 mg/kg BID PO) was given to five horses with cecal cannulas. The study was suspended on Day 3 due to adverse gastrointestinal effects. Cecal and fecal samples were obtained before (Days minus52, m28, m14, and 0) and after (Days 7, 14, 28, and 52) metronidazole administration. DNA was extracted from the cecal and fecal samples, and 16S rRNA genes were sequenced. Richness and evenness indices were significantly decreased by metronidazole administration in both cecal and fecal samples, but the overall composition was only significantly changed in fecal samples on Day 3 (ANOSIM, p = 0.008). The most dominant phyla were Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes in all groups examined. In fecal samples, significant changes of the phyla Actinobacteria, Spirochaetes, Lentisphaerae, and Verrucomicrobia occurred on Day 3, which correlated with clinical signs of gastrointestinal disease. The metabolome was characterized by mass spectrometry-based methods and only named metabolites were included in the analysis. Fecal, but not cecal, metabolites were significantly affected by metronidazole. The fecal metabolites affected represent diverse metabolic pathways, such as the metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and cofactors and vitamins. Metronidazole administration has potential to cause adverse effects in horses, alters the bacterial composition of the horse's cecal and fecal content, and the metabolome of fecal samples.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 9.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Arnold, C. E., Isaiah, A., Pilla, R., Lidbury, J., Coverdale, J. S., Callaway, T. R., ... Suchodolski, J. S.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Arnold, Carolyn E||Isaiah, Anitha||Pilla, Rachel||Lidbury, Jonathan||Coverdale, Josie S||Callaway, Todd R||Lawhon, Sara D||Steiner, Joerg||Suchodolski, Jan S

editor list (cited editors)

  • Ratnasekhar, C. h.

publication date

  • January 2020