The impact of gut microbiota on gender-specific differences in immunity

Floris Fransen*, Adriaan A. van Beek, Theo Borghuis, Ben Meijer, Floor Hugenholtz, Christa van der Gaast-de Jongh, Huub F. Savelkoul, Marien I. de Jonge, Marijke M. Faas, Mark V. Boekschoten, Hauke Smidt, Sahar El Aidy, Paul de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Males and females are known to have gender-specific differences in their immune system and gut microbiota composition. Whether these differences in gut microbiota composition are a cause or consequence of differences in the immune system is not known. To investigate this issue, gut microbiota from conventional males or females was transferred to germ-free (GF) animals of the same or opposing gender. We demonstrate that microbiota-independent gender differences in immunity are already present in GF mice. In particular, type I interferon signaling was enhanced in the intestine of GF females. Presumably, due to these immune differences bacterial groups, such as Alistipes, Rikenella, and Porphyromonadaceae, known to expand in the absence of innate immune defense mechanism were overrepresented in the male microbiota. The presence of these bacterial groups was associated with induction of weight loss, inflammation, and DNA damage upon transfer of the male microbiota to female GF recipients. In summary, our data suggest that microbiota-independent gender differences in the immune system select a gender-specific gut microbiota composition, which in turn further contributes to gender differences in the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number754
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • Gender
  • Germ-free mice
  • Gut microbiota
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation

Cite this

Fransen, F., van Beek, A. A., Borghuis, T., Meijer, B., Hugenholtz, F., van der Gaast-de Jongh, C., ... de Vos, P. (2017). The impact of gut microbiota on gender-specific differences in immunity. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, [754]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00754