Sustained Dysbiosis and Decreased Fecal Short-Chain Fatty Acids after Traumatic Brain Injury and Impact on Neurologic Outcome.J Neurotrauma. 2021 09 15; 38(18):2610-2621.JN
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) alters microbial populations present in the gut, which may impact healing and tissue recovery. However, the duration and impact of these changes on outcome from TBI are unknown. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber, are important signaling molecules in the microbiota gut-brain axis. We hypothesized that TBI would lead to a sustained reduction in SCFA producing bacteria, fecal SCFAs concentration, and administration of soluble SCFAs would improve functional outcome after TBI. Adult mice (n = 10) had the controlled cortical impact (CCI) model of TBI performed (6 m/sec, 2-mm depth, 50-msec dwell). Stool samples were collected serially until 28 days after CCI and analyzed for SCFA concentration by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry and microbiome analyzed by 16S gene sequencing. In a separate experiment, mice (n = 10/group) were randomized 2 weeks before CCI to standard drinking water or water supplemented with the SCFAs acetate (67.5 mM), propionate (25.9 mM), and butyrate (40 mM). Morris water maze performance was assessed on post-injury Days 14-19. Alpha diversity remained stable until 72 h, at which point a decline in diversity was observed without recovery out to 28 days. The taxonomic composition of post-TBI fecal samples demonstrated depletion of bacteria from Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcaceae, and Bacteroidaceae families, and enrichment of bacteria from the Verrucomicrobiaceae family. Analysis from paired fecal samples revealed a reduction in total SCFAs at 24 h and 28 days after TBI. Acetate, the most abundant SCFA detected in the fecal samples, was reduced at 7 days and 28 days after TBI. SCFA administration improved spatial learning after TBI versus standard drinking water. In conclusion, TBI is associated with reduced richness and diversity of commensal microbiota in the gut and a reduction in SCFAs detected in stool. Supplementation of soluble SCFAs improves spatial learning after TBI.