Intestinal microbiota in allergic and nonallergic 1-year-old very low birth weight infants after neonatal glutamine supplementation


RM van Elburg, VU University Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: +31-20-4442413 | Fax: +31-20-4443045 |


Aim:  Previously, glutamine-enriched enteral nutrition in very low birth weight infants (VLBW) decreased the incidence of atopic dermatitis at age 1 year. The aim of this study was to determine whether this effect is related to changes in intestinal bacterial species that are associated with allergy, such as bifidobacteria, clostridium histolyticum, clostridium lituseburense (Chis/lit group) and Escherichia coli at age 1 year.

Methods:  Eighty-nine infants were eligible for this follow-up study, conducted at a Tertiary care hospital. Bifidobacteria, Chis/lit group and E. coli were measured by fluorescent in situ hybridization in faecal samples collected at age 1 year. Information on allergic and infectious diseases was previously determined by questionnaire.

Results:  Seventy-two of 89 (81%) infants were participated. Prevalence of all studied species was not different between glutamine-supplemented and control groups. Allergic infants were less frequently colonized with bifidobacteria than nonallergic infants (p = 0.04). Between neonatal period and 1 year, prevalence of bifidobacteria was increased (p < 0.001), of Chis/lit group was unchanged (p = 0.84), and of E. coli was decreased (p < 0.001).

Conclusion:  The beneficial effect of glutamine-enriched enteral nutrition on the incidence of atopic dermatitis in the first year of life in VLBW infants is not related to changes in bifidobacteria, Chis/lit group or E. coli. Allergic VLBW infants are less frequently colonized with bifidobacteria compared to nonallergic VLBW infants.