Blood Loss Leads to Increase in Relative Abundance of Opportunistic Pathogens in the Gut Microbiome of Rabbits


Massive blood loss, a common pathological complication in the clinic, is often accompanied by altered gut integrity and intestinal wall damage. Little is known to what extent the gut microbiome could be correlated with this process. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in human health, especially in immune and inflammatory responses. This study aims to determine whether acute blood loss affects the gut microbiome and the dynamic variation of the gut microbiome following the loss of blood. We used New Zealand rabbits to mimic the blood loss complication and designed a five-time-point fecal sampling strategy including 24-h pre-blood loss procedure, 24 h, 36 h, 48 h, and 1-week post-blood loss procedure. Gut microbiome composition and diversity were analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and downstream α-diversity, β-diversity, and taxonomy analysis. The gut microbiome changed dramatically after blood loss procedure. There was a significant increase in diversity and richness of the gut microbiome at 24-h post-procedure (P = 0.038). Based on an analysis of similarities, the composition of gut microbiome in the samples collected at 24-h post-procedure was significantly different from that of pre-procedure samples (r = 0.79, P = 0.004 weighted unifrac distance; r = 0.99, P = 0.002, unweighted unifrac distance). The relative abundance of Lactobacillus was significantly decreased in the post-procedure samples (P = 0.0006), while the relative abundance of Clostridiales (P = 0.018) and Bacteroidales (P = 0.015) was significantly increased after procedure. We also found the relative abundance of Bacilli, Lactobacillus, Myroides, and Prevotella decreased gradually at different time points after blood loss. The relative abundance of the Clostridia, Alphaproteobacteria, and Sporosarcina increased at 24-h post-procedure and decreased thereafter. This preliminary study discovered potential connections between blood loss and dysbiosis of gut microbiome. The diversity and abundance of the gut microbiome was affected to various extents after acute blood loss and unable to be restored to the original microbiome profile even after one week. The increase in relative abundance of opportunistic pathogens after blood loss could be an important indication to reconsider immune and inflammatory responses after acute blood loss from the perspective of gut microbiome.

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This study was supported by the Shandong Provincial Key Research and Development Program under contract No. 2018CXGC1219 (to ZG) and No. 2016YYSP009 (to LZ), the National Natural Science Foundation of China under contract No. 31471202 (to LZ) and No. 81671362 (to YW); and the Weihai Technique Extension Project under contract No. 2016GNS023 (to LZ). Lei Zhang is also supported by the Taishan Scholars Program of Shandong Province (No. tshw20120206) and Taishan Industry Leading Talent Program of Shandong Province.

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LZ, JY, and XH designed the study; XM, YW, SH, ZGCZ, and ZZ performed measurements and data analysis; CZ and DZ obtained samples; JZ JY, and LZ wrote the manuscript; and JY and LZ revised the manuscript extensively. All authors have read and critically revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xueyuan Heng or Lei Zhang.

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Yang, J., Zhang, J., Zhao, C. et al. Blood Loss Leads to Increase in Relative Abundance of Opportunistic Pathogens in the Gut Microbiome of Rabbits. Curr Microbiol 77, 415–424 (2020).

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