Composition and Diversity of the Fecal Microbiome and Inferred Fecal Metagenome Does Not Predict Subsequent Pneumonia Caused by Rhodococcus equi in Foals
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In equids, susceptibility to disease caused by Rhodococcus equi occurs almost exclusively in foals. This distribution might be attributable to the age-dependent maturation of immunity following birth undergone by mammalian neonates that renders them especially susceptible to infectious diseases. Expansion and diversification of the neonatal microbiome contribute to development of immunity in the gut. Moreover, diminished diversity of the gastrointestinal microbiome has been associated with risk of infections and immune dysregulation. We thus hypothesized that varying composition or reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiome of neonatal foals would contribute to increased susceptibility of their developing R. equi pneumonia. The composition and diversity indices of the fecal microbiota at 3 and 5 weeks of age were compared among 3 groups of foals: 1) foals that subsequently developed R. equi pneumonia after sampling; 2) foals that subsequently developed ultrasonographic evidence of pulmonary abscess formation or consolidation but not clinical signs (subclinical group); and, 3) foals that developed neither clinical signs nor ultrasonographic evidence of pulmonary abscess formation or consolidation. No significant differences were found among groups at either sampling time, indicating absence of evidence of an influence of composition or diversity of the fecal microbiome, or predicted fecal metagenome, on susceptibility to subsequent R. equi pneumonia. A marked and significant difference identified between a relatively short interval of time appeared to reflect ongoing adaptation to transition from a milk diet to a diet including available forage (including hay) and access to concentrate fed to the mare.
author list (cited authors)
Whitfield-Cargile, C. M., Cohen, N. D., Suchodolski, J., Chaffin, M. K., McQueen, C. M., Arnold, C. E., Dowd, S. E., & Blodgett, G. P.