Authors: Wu Y, Cheng X, Jiang G, Tang H, Ming S.

PMID: 34911943 PMCID: PMC8672330 DOI: 10.1038/s41522-021-00262-z


The human oral and gut commensal microbes play vital roles in the development and maintenance of immune homeostasis, while its association with susceptibility and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection is barely understood. In this study, we investigated the dynamics of the oral and intestinal flora before and after the clearance of SARS-CoV-2 in 53 COVID-19 patients, and then examined their microbiome alterations in comparison to 76 healthy individuals. A total of 140 throat swab samples and 81 fecal samples from these COVID-19 patients during hospitalization, and 44 throat swab samples and 32 fecal samples from sex and age-matched healthy individuals were collected and then subjected to 16S rRNA sequencing and viral load inspection. We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with alterations of the microbiome community in patients as indicated by both alpha and beta diversity indexes. Several bacterial taxa were identified related to SARS-CoV-2 infection, wherein elevated Granulicatella and Rothia mucilaginosa were found in both oral and gut microbiome. The SARS-CoV-2 viral load in those samples was also calculated to identify potential dynamics between COVID-19 and the microbiome. These findings provide a meaningful baseline for microbes in the digestive tract of COVID-19 patients and will shed light on new dimensions for disease pathophysiology, potential microbial biomarkers, and treatment strategies for COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19, microbiota, hospitalization

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