We study host-microbiome interactions at the beginning of life with a focus on the gut-lung axis in bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease of preterm infants. Their translational work utilizes a mixed approach of gnotobiotic and antibiotic-exposure animal models and human cohort studies to gain insight into how commensal microbes alter newborn physiology.
Premature infants, particularly those who receive oxygen treatment soon after birth, are at high risk of developing lung problems characterized by fibrosis and inflammation. Emerging research suggests that the communities of bacteria in the gut can impair development of the immune system and may also affect inflammation, which in turn plays an important role in lung disease. The interaction among these body systems is called the gut-lung axis.
This study provides valuable experimental evidence that manipulation of gut microbiota by antibiotic exposure influences the progression of oxygen exposure-related lung injury and may assist in the interpretation of future observational studies in human newborns examining the role of the gut-lung axis in bronchopulmonary dysplasia.