Tailored Diet May Enhance Growth in Malnourished Children Through Gut Bacteria Action

by Ella


The infant gut microbiome, influenced by birth conditions, maternal microbes, and early diet, typically matures to resemble adult microbiota by age three. However, undernourished children often exhibit slower microbiome development, impacting their growth and overall health. A study conducted with malnourished Bangladeshi children showcased the effectiveness of a specialized, less calorie-dense food known as MDCF-2 in significantly improving weight gain over standard supplements. This improvement was attributed to specific gut bacteria, such as P. copri, effectively breaking down MDCF-2 polysaccharides. This underscores the potential of microbiome-targeted food interventions in combating malnutrition, although further research is necessary to refine these strategies.

Study Overview:

The research adhered to all relevant ethical guidelines. Bacterial strains were isolated from fecal samples collected under informed consent, following the ethical standards of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), and with consent for material transfer between icddr,b and Washington University in St. Louis. The study utilized gnotobiotic mice experiments, following approved protocols by Washington University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use and Institutional Biological and Chemical Safety Committees.


Study Methodology:

For bacterial genome sequencing, monocultures were grown anaerobically, and genomic DNA was extracted, quantified, and prepared for sequencing. The resulting data underwent processing to assemble and annotate genomes, analyzing phylogenetic relationships among P. copri isolates and metagenome-assembled genomes. In gnotobiotic mouse experiments, germ-free mice were colonized with specific bacterial strains, including P. copri, and fed a diet containing MDCF-2. Mouse weight gain and bacterial abundances in the gut were evaluated, alongside analysis of host metabolism.


Study Findings:

The research involved designing a human gut microbial community based on Bangladeshi children’s microbiota, selecting 20 bacterial strains, including P. copri, due to its association with improved weight gain. It was revealed that P. copri’s presence facilitated the effective degradation of MDCF-2 glycans, enhancing nutrient absorption and weight gain. Gnotobiotic mouse models colonized with P. copri and fed MDCF-2 exhibited significant weight gain compared to controls. RNA sequencing and metabolomic profiling identified differences in glycan degradation and nutrient absorption, elucidating P. copri’s role in host metabolism and growth.



In summary, the study utilized a ‘reverse translation’ approach to investigate the impact of microbiome-targeted nutrition on malnourished children’s physiology and microbiota, focusing on P. copri and MDCF-2. The findings underscored P. copri’s crucial role in processing MDCF-2 polysaccharides and its influence on weight gain and nutrient metabolism, dependent on the diet. Despite insights into microbiome-host interactions, challenges in mono-colonizing mice with P. copri highlight the need for further research to comprehend its therapeutic potential and refine interventions for malnutrition.




Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023