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  • 1 Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • | 2 University of Bologna, Italy
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Nutritional iron deficiency (ID) causes not only anemia but also malfunction of the entire human organism. Recently, a role of the gut microbiota has been hypothesized, but limited data are available especially in infants. Here, we performed a pilot study to explore the gut microbiota in 10 patients with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and 10 healthy controls aged 6–34 months. Fresh stool samples were collected from diapers, and the fecal microbiota was profiled by next-generation sequencing of the V3–V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. Except for diet diversity, the breastfeeding status at the enrollment, the exclusive breastfeeding duration, and the introduction of complementary foods did not differ between groups. Distinct microbial signatures were found in IDA patients, with increased relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae (mean relative abundance, patients vs. controls, 4.4% vs. 3.0%) and Veillonellaceae (13.7% vs. 3.6%), and reduced abundance of Coriobacteriaceae (3.5% vs. 8.8%) compared to healthy controls. A decreased Bifidobacteriaceae/Enterobacteriaceae ratio was observed in IDA patients. Notwithstanding the low sample size, our data highlight microbiota dysbalance in IDA worth for further investigations, aimed at unraveling the ID impact on the microbiome trajectory in early life, and the possible long-term consequences.

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