Azithromycin acutely disrupts gut microbiota in children
Azithromycin (AZT) treatment in children with recurrent asthma-like symptoms acutely disrupts gut microbiota composition, a recent study has found.
Researchers randomly assigned 59 children aged 12–36 months to receive either 10 mg/kg per day oral AZT (n=29) or placebo (n=30). Faecal samples were collected and subjected to DNA extraction, sequencing and bioinformatic analysis for the evaluation of gut microbiota composition.
In the short-term, 14 days after randomization, mean microbial richness was significantly reduced in children given the AZT medication (177.8±56.0 vs 230.6±61.2; p=0.0006). The same was true for the Shannon diversity index (2.96±0.80 vs 3.41±0.58; p=0.009).
Over the same time period, the Bacteroidetes (57.2 percent) and Firmicutes (31.6 percent) phyla dominated the sampled gut microbiota, followed by Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia. Altogether, these phyla had a relative abundance of 99.7 percent. In contrast, there was a drop in the abundance of Actinobacteria following AZT treatment, relative to placebo.
To evaluate the long-term impact of AZT treatment, 49 faecal samples were collected from the children when they were 4 years of age; 31 were from those treated with AZT while the remaining 18 were from the placebo group.
Researchers found no significant differences in alpha diversity (mean, 181.5±49.9 vs 188.9±41.2; p=0.66) and beta diversity (R2; 2.0 percent; p=0.37). There were also no operational taxonomic units significantly enriched between the groups.
Moreover, the team was unable to differentiate the children using Random Forest models, suggesting full recovery of the gut microbiota and the absence of long-term compositional disturbances, said researchers.