Fecal microbiota transplantation alters the intestinal microbiota and blood cytokines in preweaned dairy calves

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Jounral of Dairy Science




Suppl. 1






gut microbiota, feces, neonatal calves


This study aimed to evaluate the changes in gut microbiota and blood cytokines during fecal microbiota transplantation in preweaned dairy calves. Healthy newborn Holstein calves (n = 8/TRT) were randomly assigned to either a baseline nutritional program (CON) or 1 × /d inoculations with 25 g of fecal donor material (FMT) mixed in the antibiotic-free milk replacer from 8 to 12 d of age. Body weight (BW) was recorded weekly. Blood samples were collected weekly for cytokines measure- ment by ELISA assay. Fecal samples were collected at 7, 14, and 35 d of age and immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS, where treatment, time, and their interaction were the fixed effects in the model, and calf the random effect. The respective fecal bacterial compositions of donor material used for the FMT and of the calf samples were determined by MiSeq (2X300) sequencing of amplicons generated from the V1-V3 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Taxonomic composition was determined using the Ribosomal Database Project (RDB) classifier. Microbial composi- tion differences in the feces of CON and FMT calves were assessed by Kruskal-Wallis test in R. A trend (P = 0.06) for greater BW (61.2 vs 57.7 kg) in FMT calves than CON was observed at 35 d of age. This was followed by lower (P ≤ 0.05) IL-1β and IL-6 in FMT calves than CON during weaning at 42 and 49 d of age. Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria were the most highly represented phyla in the fecal material of the donor, accounting for 95.8% of the sequences. At 7 and 14 d of age, Odoribacteraceae abundance was higher in CON calves compared with FMT group, whereas at 14 d of age, the family Succinivibrionaceae from the Proteobacteria phylum was significantly enriched in FMT calves relative to CON. At 35 d of age, the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae was significantly lower in the feces of FMT calves relative to the CON. A persistent imbalance of the gut’s microbial community has been associated with an abnormal increase in the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae, which may trigger calf scours. Thus, the lower abundance of Enterobacteriaceae in the FMT calves compared with the CON, along with a 3.5-kg increment in BW and no incidence of diarrhea at 35 d of age or before weaning, suggest that FMT-induced alterations in the gut microbial composition of preweaned calves may improve overall host performance.

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