Authors:Markus M. Heimesaat, Gernot Reifenberger, Viktoria Vicena, Anita Illes, Gabriella Horvath, Andrea Tamas, Balazs D. Fulop, Stefan Bereswill and Dora Reglodi
Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypetide (PACAP) constitutes a neuropeptide that is widely distributed in the host exerting essential cytoprotective properties, whereas PACAP−/− mice display increased susceptibility to distinct immunopathological conditions. The orchestrated interplay between the gut microbiota and the host is pivotal in immune homeostasis and resistance to disease. Potential pertubations of the intestinal microbiota in PACAP−/− mice, however, have not been addressed so far. For the first time, we performed a comprehensive survey of the intestinal microbiota composition in PACAP−/− and wildtype (WT) mice starting 2 weeks postpartum until 18 months of age applying quantitative culture-independent techniques. Fecal enterobacteria and enterococci were lower in PACAP−/− than WT mice aged 1 month and ≥6 months, respectively. Whereas Mouse Intestinal Bacteroides were slightly higher in PACAP−/− versus WT mice aged 1 and 6 months, this later in life held true for Bacteroides/Prevotella spp. (≥12 months) and lactobacilli (>15 months of age). Strikingly, health-beneficial bifidobacteria were virtually absent in the intestines of PACAP−/− mice, even when still breastfed. In conclusion, PACAP deficiency is accompanied by distinct changes in fecal microbiota composition with virtually absent bifidobacteria as a major hallmark that might be linked to increased susceptibility to disease.