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DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms11061482; PMCID: PMC10301450


Peripartum antibiotics can negatively impact the developing gut microbiome and are associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The mechanisms by which peripartum antibiotics increase the risk of NEC and strategies that can help mitigate this risk remain poorly understood. In this study, we determined mechanisms by which peripartum antibiotics increase neonatal gut injury and evaluated whether probiotics protect against gut injury potentiated by peripartum antibiotics. To accomplish this objective, we administered broad-spectrum antibiotics or sterile water to pregnant C57BL6 mice and induced neonatal gut injury to their pups with formula feeding. We found that pups exposed to antibiotics had reduced villus height, crypt depth, and intestinal olfactomedin 4 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen compared to the controls, indicating that peripartum antibiotics impaired intestinal proliferation. When formula feeding was used to induce NEC-like injury, more severe intestinal injury and apoptosis were observed in the pups exposed to antibiotics compared to the controls. Supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) reduced the severity of formula-induced gut injury potentiated by antibiotics. Increased intestinal proliferating cell nuclear antigen and activation of the Gpr81-Wnt pathway were noted in the pups supplemented with LGG, suggesting partial restoration of intestinal proliferation by probiotics. We conclude that peripartum antibiotics potentiate neonatal gut injury by inhibiting intestinal proliferation. LGG supplementation decreases gut injury by activating the Gpr81-Wnt pathway and restoring intestinal proliferation impaired by peripartum antibiotics. Our results suggest that postnatal probiotics may be effective in mitigating the increased risk of NEC associated with peripartum antibiotic exposure in preterm infants.

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antibiotics; gut microbiome; necrotizing enterocolitis; postnatal gut adaptation; probiotics


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