The gut microbiota has recently been associated with susceptibility/resistance to malaria in animal models and humans, yet the impact of the gut microbiota on the risk of a malaria attack remains to be assessed. This study aims at assessing the influence of the gut microbiota on malaria attacks and Plasmodium parasitæmia in children living in a malaria-endemic area in Mali. Three hundred healthy children were included in a 16-months cohort study in Bandiagara. Their gut bacteria and fungi community structures were characterised via 16S and ITS metabarcoding from stool samples collected at inclusion. Clinician team monitored the occurrence of malaria attacks. Asymptomatic carriage of Plasmodium was assessed by qPCR. Over the 16-month period, 107 (36%) children experienced at least one occurrence of malaria attacks, and 82 (27%) at least one asymptomatic Plasmodium parasitæmia episode. A higher gut bacteria richness was independently associated with susceptibility to asymptomatic parasitæmia episodes and malaria attacks; while the Shannon H diversity and Chao-1 richness index of gut fungi community structure was relatively homogeneous in children who were and were not infected with P. falciparum. Using a linear discriminant effect size analysis of operational taxonomic units assigned to the species level, 17 bacteria, including Clostridiaceae, Eubacteriaceae, Senegalimassilia sp., Atopobiaceae and Lachnosipraceae, and seven fungi, including Dioszegia fristigensis, Ogataea polymorpha and Cutaneotrichosporon cyanovorans, were associated with susceptibility; whereas eight bacteria, including, Bifidobacterium spp., Weissela confusa and Peptostreptococcacea, and 3 fungi, Malassezia sp., Niesslia exosporoides, and Didymocrea leucaenae, were associated with resistance to malaria. Moreover, 15 bacteria, including Coproccus eutactus, Terrisporobacter petrolearius, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Ruminococcaceae, and 13 fungi, including Wallemia mellicola, were associated with susceptibility, whereas 19 bacteria, including Bifidobacterium spp., Bacteroides fragilis, Peptostreptococcacea, and Lactobacillus ruminis, and three fungi, including Cryptococcus neoformans, were associated with resistance to asymptomatic Plasmodium parasitæmia episodes. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings that point the way towards strategies aiming to reduce the risk of malaria by modulating gut microbiota components in at-risk populations.
Gut microbiota; Mycobiota; Bacteria; Fungi; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; 16S metagenomics; ITS metagenomics; Children; Cohort; Mali; Dogon country
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