Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Temporal variations in early gut microbial colonization are associated with allergen-specific immunoglobulin E but not atopic eczema at 2 years of age


Ola Storrø, Department of Community Medicine and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, MTFS, N-7489 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail:


Background Intestinal microbiota undergoes substantial development during the first 2 years of life, important for intestinal immunologic development and maturation influencing systemic immune responses.

Objective We aimed to investigate, using a prospective study design, whether allergen-specific IgE (sIgE) and atopic eczema are associated with variations in gut microbial colonization patterns in an unselected population during the first 2 years of life.

Methods Faeces from 94 infants were repeatedly sampled from 10 days, 4 months, 1 and 2 years postnatal and analysed for 12 different bacterial species by quantitative real-time PCR. Venous blood samples from the infants were collected at 2 years of age and were analysed for sIgE for 12 specific allergens. The temporal gut colonization patterns for 42 sIgE-positive (sIgE⩾0.35 kU/L) and 52 sIgE-negative children (sIgE<0.1 kU/L) were then compared. The association between colonization pattern and phenotype as atopic eczema according to UK Working Party (UKWP) criteria were also described.

Results Subjects with atopic sensitization had lower levels of Escherichia coli at 4 months and 1 year, higher levels of Bifidobacterium longum at 1 year and lower levels of Bacteroides fragilis at 2 years. For E. coli and B. longum, the differences were only transient and had disappeared by 2 years of age. For other species, there were no differences in colonization patterns, and we found no association between colonization pattern and atopic eczema.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance We found temporal and transient variations in gut microbial colonization patterns associated with differences in sIgE sensitization at 2 years of age. A full understanding of the principles and mechanisms that underlie intestinal microbial colonization and diversity and host–microbiota relationships will be pivotal for the development of therapeutic approaches that manipulate the intestinal microbiota to maintain human health. [Registration number: ISRCTN28090297]

Cite this as: O. Storrø, T. Øien, Ø. Langsrud, K. Rudi, C. Dotterud and R. Johnsen, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 1545–1554.