School of Mathematics and Statistics - Research Publications

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    Faecal microbiota transplant ameliorates gut dysbiosis and cognitive deficits in Huntington's disease mice.
    Gubert, C ; Choo, JM ; Love, CJ ; Kodikara, S ; Masson, BA ; Liew, JJM ; Wang, Y ; Kong, G ; Narayana, VK ; Renoir, T ; Lê Cao, KA ; Rogers, GB ; Hannan, AJ (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022)
    Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder involving psychiatric, cognitive and motor symptoms. Huntington's disease is caused by a tandem-repeat expansion in the huntingtin gene, which is widely expressed throughout the brain and body, including the gastrointestinal system. There are currently no effective disease-modifying treatments available for this fatal disorder. Despite recent evidence of gut microbiome disruption in preclinical and clinical Huntington's disease, its potential as a target for therapeutic interventions has not been explored. The microbiota-gut-brain axis provides a potential pathway through which changes in the gut could modulate brain function, including cognition. We now show that faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) from wild-type into Huntington's disease mice positively modulates cognitive outcomes, particularly in females. In Huntington's disease male mice, we revealed an inefficiency of FMT engraftment, which is potentially due to the more pronounced changes in the structure, composition and instability of the gut microbial community, and the imbalance in acetate and gut immune profiles found in these mice. This study demonstrates a role for gut microbiome modulation in ameliorating cognitive deficits modelling dementia in Huntington's disease. Our findings pave the way for the development of future therapeutic approaches, including FMT and other forms of gut microbiome modulation, as potential clinical interventions for Huntington's disease.
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    Alterations in the Gut Fungal Community in a Mouse Model of Huntington's Disease
    Kong, G ; Cao, K-AL ; Hannan, AJ ; Shapiro, RS (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2022-04-01)
    Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a trinucleotide expansion in the HTT gene, which is expressed throughout the brain and body, including the gut epithelium and enteric nervous system. Afflicted individuals suffer from progressive impairments in motor, psychiatric, and cognitive faculties, as well as peripheral deficits, including the alteration of the gut microbiome. However, studies characterizing the gut microbiome in HD have focused entirely on the bacterial component, while the fungal community (mycobiome) has been overlooked. The gut mycobiome has gained recognition for its role in host homeostasis and maintenance of the gut epithelial barrier. We aimed to characterize the gut mycobiome profile in HD using fecal samples collected from the R6/1 transgenic mouse model (and wild-type littermate controls) from 4 to 12 weeks of age, corresponding to presymptomatic through to early disease stages. Shotgun sequencing was performed on fecal DNA samples, followed by metagenomic analyses. The HD gut mycobiome beta diversity was significantly different from that of wild-type littermates at 12 weeks of age, while no genotype differences were observed at the earlier time points. Similarly, greater alpha diversity was observed in the HD mice by 12 weeks of age. Key taxa, including Malassezia restricta, Yarrowia lipolytica, and Aspergillus species, were identified as having a negative association with HD. Furthermore, integration of the bacterial and fungal data sets at 12 weeks of age identified negative correlations between the HD-associated fungal species and Lactobacillus reuteri. These findings provide new insights into gut microbiome alterations in HD and may help identify novel therapeutic targets. IMPORTANCE Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder affecting both the mind and body. We have recently discovered that gut bacteria are disrupted in HD. The present study provides the first evidence of an altered gut fungal community (mycobiome) in HD. The genomes of many thousands of gut microbes were sequenced and used to assess "metagenomics" in particular the different types of fungal species in the HD versus control gut, in a mouse model. At an early disease stage, before the onset of symptoms, the overall gut mycobiome structure (array of fungi) in HD mice was distinct from that of their wild-type littermates. Alterations of multiple key fungi species were identified as being associated with the onset of disease symptoms, some of which showed strong correlations with the gut bacterial community. This study highlights the potential role of gut fungi in HD and may facilitate the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
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    An integrated metagenomics and metabolomics approach implicates the microbiota-gut-brain axis in the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease
    Kong, G ; Ellul, S ; Narayana, VK ; Kanojia, K ; Ha, HTT ; Li, S ; Renoir, T ; Kim-Anh, LC ; Hannan, AJ (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2021-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder with onset and severity of symptoms influenced by various environmental factors. Recent discoveries have highlighted the importance of the gastrointestinal microbiome in mediating the gut-brain-axis bidirectional communication via circulating factors. Using shotgun sequencing, we investigated the gut microbiome composition in the R6/1 transgenic mouse model of HD from 4 to 12 weeks of age (early adolescent through to adult stages). Targeted metabolomics was also performed on the blood plasma of these mice (n = 9 per group) at 12 weeks of age to investigate potential effects of gut dysbiosis on the plasma metabolome profile. RESULTS: Modelled time profiles of each species, KEGG Orthologs and bacterial genes, revealed heightened volatility in the R6/1 mice, indicating potential early effects of the HD mutation in the gut. In addition to gut dysbiosis in R6/1 mice at 12 weeks of age, gut microbiome function was perturbed. In particular, the butanoate metabolism pathway was elevated, suggesting increased production of the protective SCFA, butyrate, in the gut. No significant alterations were found in the plasma butyrate and propionate levels in the R6/1 mice at 12 weeks of age. The statistical integration of the metagenomics and metabolomics unraveled several Bacteroides species that were negatively correlated with ATP and pipecolic acid in the plasma. CONCLUSIONS: The present study revealed the instability of the HD gut microbiome during the pre-motor symptomatic stage of the disease which may have dire consequences on the host's health. Perturbation of the HD gut microbiome function prior to significant cognitive and motor dysfunction suggest the potential role of the gut in modulating the pathogenesis of HD, potentially via specific altered plasma metabolites which mediate gut-brain signaling.