Urogenital schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by the parasite Schistosoma haematobium, which resides in the vasculature surrounding the urogenital system. Previous work has suggested that helminthic infections can affect the intestinal microbiome, and we hypothesized that S. haematobium infection could result in an alteration of immune system-microbiota homeostasis and impact the composition of the gut microbiota. To address this question, we compared the fecal microbiomes of infected and uninfected schoolchildren from the Argungu Local Government Area of Kebbi State, Nigeria, detecting significant differences in community composition between the two groups. Most remarkably, we observed a decreased abundance of Firmicutes and increased abundance of Proteobacteria – a shift in community structure which has been previously associated with dysbiosis. More specifically, we detected a number of changes in lower taxa reminiscent of inflammation-associated dysbiosis, including decreases in Clostridiales and increases in Moraxellaceae, Veillonellaceae, Pasteurellaceae, and Desulfovibrionaceae. Functional potential analysis also revealed an enrichment in orthologs of urease, which has been linked to dysbiosis and inflammation. Overall, our analysis indicates that S. haematobium infection is associated with perturbations in the gut microbiota and may point to microbiome disruption as an additional consequence of schistosome infection.
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