Microbial signatures in child’s intestinal microbiota development may link to celiac disease

The interactions between a host and his/her microbiota have co-evolved over time and they exert profound effects on each other. Intestinal microbiota has been linked with a number of diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome. However, the role of intestinal microbiota is unclear in celiac disease. In her doctoral thesis PhD Jing Cheng aimed to characterize the development and stability of intestinal microbiota in healthy young children and to compare the microbial features between children and adults. Furthermore, she investigated host-microbe interactions in celiac disease in healthy children and their counterparts with celiac disease.

To date, most efforts for detecting potential microbial changes affected by celiac disease have focused on adult individuals and have examined fecal materials, although it is known that early life is the critical period for the microbiota to colonize and establish their niche in the human intestine. At this time in healthy individuals, there is continuing cross-talk with the host e.g. via the immune system, leading to the establishment of homeostasis in both metabolic and immunological programming. 

– Since the intestinal epithelium is the main interface for host - microbe interactions, the role of mucosa-associated microbiota may be distinct from that of fecal microbiota, but both the normal fluctuations in intestinal microbiota and the composition of duodenal mucosa-associated microbiota are still not fully clarified, explains Cheng.

Microbial signatures Need further decoding

The main findings of Cheng’s research showed that the intestinal microbiota of western children is not “matured” until 5 years of age. The specific symbiotic microbial signatures called keystone species are developing towards adult-like microbial composition and abundance.

Moreover, Cheng observed differences between healthy- and celiac disease- associated microbial signatures. The differences may reflect changes in epithelial integrity associated with the celiac disease. She found out that specific symbiotic microbial signatures (keystone species), including important functional bacteria, may provide functional diagnostic or therapeutic targets for promoting healthy microbiota development.

– Disturbed microbial signatures might contribute to the immunological balance in pediatric Celiac disease. Long term studies in a controlled environment with an adequate number of participants will be necessary to decode the disturbed microbial signature, concludes Cheng.

PhD Jing Cheng defended his doctoral thesis on "The development of intestinal microbiota in childhood and host-microbe interactions in pediatric celiac disease" 
5 December 2016 at noon, in the Walter hall, EE-building, Agnes Sjöberginkatu 2, Helsinki. Opponent was  Docent Arthur Ouwehand, Health & Nutrition Science, DuPont Nutrition & Health and Custos is Prof. Airi Palva, Depart. of Veterinary Bioscience, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

For further information And references

Researcher Jing Cheng, Ph.D, Doc. Reetta Satokari research group,
Department of Veterinary Bioscience, University of Helsinki
Tel. 0452740616, Email: jing.cheng@helsinki.fi
E-thesis: https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/169508


Ringel-Kulka T*, Cheng J*, Ringel Y, Salojärvi J, Carroll I, Palva A, de Vos WM, Satokari R. 2013. Intestinal microbiota in healthy US young children and adults – a high throughput microarray analysis. PLoS ONE  8(5): e64315.

Cheng J*, Ringel-Kulka T*, Heikamp-de Jong I, Ringel Y, Carroll I, de Vos WM, Salojärvi J, Satokari R. 2016. Discordant temporal developmentof bacterial phyla and the emergence of core in the fecal microbiota in young children. The ISME Journal 10: 1002-1014.

Cheng J, Kalliomäki M, Heilig H, Palva A, Lähteenoja H, de Vos WM, Salojärvi J, Satokari R. 2013. Duodenal microbiota composition andmucosal homeostasis in pediatric celiac disease. BMC Gastroenterology 13:113 

Intestinal microbiota 

  • play important roles in human health
  • You can find it  along the GI tract in stomach, small intestine and large intestine with different density and diversity.
  • Where do they come from? Mother, environment, pets, and food.
  • Influencing factors from infants to elderly are: genetics, birth route, nutrition, infection, medical practice etc.

Pediatric celiac disease

  • Autoimmune disease with chronic small intestinal inflammation triggered by gluten.
  • Prevalence: ~1% of the western population