Microbial therapeutics for infant gut health

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Watkins, Claire
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University College Cork
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The infant gut microbiota play an important role in the development of human health. This thesis outlines different areas where the infant gut can contribute as a source of microorganisms with the potential to benefit health. In addition, the use of microbial therapeutics is discussed to highlight how the infant gut can be nourished and supported by providing microbial species, such as Bifidobacterium species, to prevent the growth of potentially pathogenic organisms during this critical window of development. In Chapter 1.1, the importance of these Bifidobacterium is discussed in health and aging and in Chapter 1.2, additional examples of microbial therapeutics is discussed with a view towards early life disorders which have been associated with an altered or disturbed gut microbiome. In Chapter 2, the gut microbial impact of Infloran©, a commercially available probiotic, is examined in a preterm infant cohort to assess the appropriate dosage required for administration in a neonatal care unit. A twice-daily dose of Infloran© was found to significantly increase the relative abundance of bifidobacteria and was subsequently recommended as a suitable dosage for administration in this preterm infant group. In Chapter 3, the identification and characterisation of an infant gut derived, exopolysaccharide producing, Lactobacillus paracasei is discussed. The use of next-generation shotgun sequencing provided information on the genetic capabilities of the microorganism and identified several pathways involved in sugar metabolism. The use of this strain in yoghurt manufacturing was also assessed to identify the industrial potential of the microorganism. In Chapter 4, a novel, narrow-spectrum lantibiotic is discussed as a microbial therapeutic for reducing Group B Streptococcus (GBS) colonisation in pregnant woman and infants. In Chapter 5 this lantibiotic was subsequently compared to a bank of previously identified lantibiotics which exhibited antimicrobial activity against GBS. In Chapter 6, a unique case study examined the effects of therapeutic hypothermia treatment on the gut microbiota composition and metabolome of infants at 2 years of age, who had experienced hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth.
Gut , Infant , Microbiome , Probiotics
Watkins, C. 2018. Microbial therapeutics for infant gut health. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.