Image_1_Gut-Microbiome Composition in Response to Phenylketonuria Depends on Dietary Phenylalanine in BTBR Pahenu2 Mice.TIF (578.81 kB)
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Image_1_Gut-Microbiome Composition in Response to Phenylketonuria Depends on Dietary Phenylalanine in BTBR Pahenu2 Mice.TIF

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posted on 04.01.2022, 04:13 by Els van der Goot, Stefanie N. Vink, Danique van Vliet, Francjan J. van Spronsen, Joana Falcao Salles, Eddy A. van der Zee

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a metabolic disorder caused by a hepatic enzyme deficiency causing high blood and brain levels of the amino acid Phenylalanine (Phe), leading to severe cognitive and psychological deficits that can be prevented, but not completely, by dietary treatment. The behavioral outcome of PKU could be affected by the gut-microbiome-brain axis, as diet is one of the major drivers of the gut microbiome composition. Gut-microbiome alterations have been reported in treated patients with PKU, although the question remains whether this is due to PKU, the dietary treatment, or their interaction. We, therefore, examined the effects of dietary Phe restriction on gut-microbiome composition and relationships with behavioral outcome in mice. Male and female BTBR Pahenu2 mice received either a control diet (normal protein, “high” Phe), liberalized Phe-restricted (33% natural protein restriction), or severe Phe-restricted (75% natural protein restriction) diet with protein substitutes for 10 weeks (n = 14 per group). Their behavioral performance was examined in an open field test, novel and spatial object location tests, and a balance beam. Fecal samples were collected and sequenced for the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) region. Results indicated that PKU on a high Phe diet reduced Shannon diversity significantly and altered the microbiome composition compared with wild-type animals. Phe-restriction prevented this loss in Shannon diversity but changed community composition even more than the high-Phe diet, depending on the severity of the restriction. Moreover, on a taxonomic level, we observed the highest number of differentially abundant genera in animals that received 75% Phe-restriction. Based on correlation analyses with differentially abundant taxa, the families Entereococacceae, Erysipelotrichaceae, Porphyromonadaceae, and the genus Alloprevotella showed interesting relationships with either plasma Phe levels and/or object memory. According to our results, these bacterial taxa could be good candidates to start examining the microbial metabolic potential and probiotic properties in the context of PKU. We conclude that PKU leads to an altered gut microbiome composition in mice, which is least severe on a liberalized Phe-restricted diet. This may suggest that the current Phe-restricted diet for PKU patients could be optimized by taking dietary effects on the microbiome into account.

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