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Effects of administration of live or inactivated virulent Rhodococccus equi and age on the fecal microbiome of neonatal foals

Bordin, AI;Suchodolski, JS;Markel, ME;Weaver, KB;Steiner, JM;Dowd, SE;Pillai, S;Cohen, ND;

Rhodococcus equi is an important pathogen of foals. Enteral administration of live, virulent R. equi during early life has been documented to protect against subsequent intrabronchial challenge with R. equi, indicating that enteral mucosal immunization may be protective. Evidence exists that mucosal immune responses develop against both live and inactivated micro-organisms. The extent to which live or inactivated R. equi might alter the intestinal microbiome of foals is unknown. This is an important question because the intestinal microbiome of neonates of other species is known to change over time and to influence host development. To our knowledge, changes in the intestinal microbiome of foals during early life have not been reported. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine whether age (during the first month of life) or administration of either live virulent R. equi (at a dose reported to protect foals against subsequent intrabronchial challenge, viz., 110(10) colony forming units [CFU]) or inactivated virulent R. equi (at higher doses, viz., 210(10) and 110(11) [CFU]) altered the fecal microbiome of foals.,Fecal swab samples from 42 healthy foals after vaccination with low-dose inactivated R. equi (n=9), high-dose inactivated R. equi (n=10), live R. equi (n=6), control with cholera toxin B (CTB, n=9), and control without CTB (n=8) were evaluated by 454-pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and by qPCR. No impact of treatment was observed among vaccinated foals; however, marked and significant differences in microbial communities and diversity were observed between foals at 30 days of age relative to 2 days of age.,The results suggest age-related changes in the fecal microbial population of healthy foals do occur, however, mucosal vaccination does not result in major changes of the fecal microbiome in foals.