Long-term effects of early-life antibiotic exposure on resistance to subsequent bacterial infection

Claire Roubaud-Baudron, Victoria E. Ruiz, Alexander M. Swan, Bruce A. Vallance, Ceren Ozkul, Zhiheng Pei, Jackie Li, Thomas W. Battaglia, Guillermo I. Perez-Perez, Martin J. Blaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Early-life antibiotic exposure may provoke long-lasting microbiota perturbation. Since a healthy gut microbiota confers resistance to enteric pathogens, we hypothesized that early-life antibiotic exposure would worsen the effects of a bacterial infection encountered as an adult. To test this hypothesis, C57BL/6 mice received a 5-day course of tylosin (macrolide), amoxicillin (α-lactam), or neither (con-trol) early in life and were challenged with Citrobacter rodentium up to 80 days thereafter. The early-life antibiotic course led to persistent alterations in the intestinal microbiota and even with pathogen challenge 80 days later worsened the subsequent colitis. Compared to exposure to amoxicillin, exposure to tylosin led to greater disease severity and microbiota perturbation. Transferring the antibiotic-perturbed microbiota to germfree animals led to worsened colitis, indicating that the perturbed microbiota was sufficient for the increased disease susceptibility. These experiments highlight the long-term effects of early-life antibiotic exposure on susceptibility to acquired pathogens. IMPORTANCE The gastrointestinal microbiota protects hosts from enteric infections; while antibiotics, by altering the microbiota, may diminish this protection. We show that after early-life exposure to antibiotics host susceptibility to enhanced Citrobacter rodentium-induced colitis is persistent and that this enhanced disease susceptibility is transferable by the antibiotic-altered microbiota. These results strongly suggest that early-life antibiotics have long-term consequences on the gut microbiota and enteropathogen infection susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02820-19
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


  • Antibiotics
  • Bioluminescence
  • Citrobacter rodentium
  • Colonic inflammation
  • Gastrointestinal microbiota
  • Host resistance
  • Murine model
  • Pathogen-induced colitis


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