Direct research on gut microbiota for understanding its role as an important organ in human individuals is difficult owing to its vast diversity and host specificity as well as ethical concerns. Transplantation of human gut microbiota into surrogate hosts can significantly facilitate the research of human gut ecology, metabolism and immunity but rodents-based model provides results with low relevance to humans. A new human flora-associated (HFA) piglet model was hereby established taking advantage of the high similarity between pigs and humans with respect to the anatomy, physiology and metabolism of the digestive system. Piglets were delivered via cesarean section into a SPF-level barrier system and were inoculated orally with a whole fecal suspension from one healthy 10-year-old boy. The establishment and composition of the intestinal microbiota of the HFA piglets were analyzed and compared with that of the human donor using enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus sequence-PCR fingerprinting-based community DNA hybridization, group-specific PCR-temperature gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time PCR. Molecular profiling demonstrated that transplantation of gut microbiota from a human to germfree piglets produced a donor-like microbial community with minimal individual variation. And the microbial succession with aging of those ex-germfree piglets was also similar to that observed in humans. This HFA model provides a significantly improved system for research on gut ecology in human metabolism, nutrition and drug discovery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- DNA fingerprinting
- Gut microbiota
- Human flora-associated animal model