Gut Microbiota Alteration is Characterized by a Proteobacteria and Fusobacteria Bloom in Kwashiorkor and a Bacteroidetes Paucity in Marasmus
Kwashiorkor and marasmus are considered to be two different clinical diseases resulting from severe malnutrition, but this distinction has been questioned. In a previous study comparing children with kwashiorkor and healthy children from Niger and Senegal, we found a dramatic gut microbiota alteration with a predominant depletion of anaerobes and enrichment in Proteobacteria and Fusobacteria in kwashiorkor. However, it remained unknown whether this association was related to malnutrition or was a specific feature of kwashiorkor. In this continuation study, we added 7 new marasmus subjects and 71,162 new colonies from the same countries. Our results showed that, compared to marasmus, the kwashiorkor gut microbiota was characterized by an increased proportion of Proteobacteria (culturomics, Marasmus 5.0%, Kwashiorkor 16.7%, p < 0.0001; metagenomics, Marasmus 14.7%, Kwashiorkor 22.0%, p = 0.001), but there was a decreased proportion of Bacteroidetes in marasmus (culturomics, Marasmus 0.8%, Kwashiorkor 6.5%, p = 0.001; metagenomics, Marasmus 5.4%, Kwashiorkor 7.0%, p = 0.03). Fusobacterium was more frequently cultured from kwashiorkor. All detected potential pathogenic species were enriched in the kwashiorkor gut microbiota. These results provide a biological basis to support the usage of an antibiotic therapy more effective in suppressing the overgrowth of bacterial communities resistant to penicillin, combined with antioxidants and probiotics for nutritional recovery therapies, particularly for kwashiorkor.