Treatment with antibiotics does not cull all microbes to the same extent, so this result is not unexpected, but it’s clear that certain antibiotics had more of an impact than others. Interestingly, the farther along these babies were before they were born (postmenstrual age) the more diverse their microbes, and feeding with human breast milk rather than formula also improved diversity. It’s unclear if these factors are causally linked to antibiotic use, though babies born earlier are typically less healthy and more likely to receive longer courses of antibiotics.

These data are clearly of interest to Physicians that deal with preterm infants, but the news for the rest of us starts in Figure 2. The authors reasoned that this population of tiny people that spend a large amount of time in a hospital and are treated early with antibiotics would be likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To test this hypothesis, they gathered metagenomic data to look for the presence of potential antibiotic resistance genes.

Many of these resistance genes have not been characterized but are expected to lead to resistance because they look like other resistance genes. Even more distressing than the shear number of AR genes they uncovered is the fact that enrichment for resistance was not restricted to the type of antibiotic used. There are many different classes of antibiotics that target different parts of the bacterial life cycle. Often, genes that allow microbes to resist one type of antibiotic will also increase resistance to antibiotics in the same class. At the same time, you would only expect antibiotic treatment to select for resistance to that class. But these authors found that treating these infants with one class of antibiotic led to increased abundance of genes for resistance to many other classes.

antibiotics 抗生素

cull 挑出

microbes 微生物

preterm 早产

enrichment 丰富


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