Stable engraftment of human microbiota into mice with a single oral gavage following antibiotic conditioning

Christopher Staley, Thomas Kaiser, Lalit K. Beura, Matthew J. Hamilton, Alexa R. Weingarden, Aleh Bobr, Johnthomas Kang, David Masopust, Michael J. Sadowsky, Alexander Khoruts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Human microbiota-associated (HMA) animal models relying on germ-free recipient mice are being used to study the relationship between intestinal microbiota and human disease. However, transfer of microbiota into germ-free animals also triggers global developmental changes in the recipient intestine, which can mask disease-specific attributes of the donor material. Therefore, a simple model of replacing microbiota into a developmentally mature intestinal environment remains highly desirable.

RESULTS: Here we report on the development of a sequential, three-course antibiotic conditioning regimen that allows sustained engraftment of intestinal microorganisms following a single oral gavage with human donor microbiota. SourceTracker, a Bayesian, OTU-based algorithm, indicated that 59.3 ± 3.0% of the fecal bacterial communities in treated mice were attributable to the donor source. This overall degree of microbiota engraftment was similar in mice conditioned with antibiotics and germ-free mice. Limited surveys of systemic and mucosal immune sites did not show evidence of immune activation following introduction of human microbiota.

CONCLUSIONS: The antibiotic treatment protocol described here followed by a single gavage of human microbiota may provide a useful, complimentary HMA model to that established in germ-free facilities. The model has the potential for further in-depth translational investigations of microbiota in a variety of human disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87
Number of pages1
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotics
  • Fecal microbiota transplantation
  • Germ-free
  • Humanization
  • Mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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