Gut- and oral-dysbiosis differentially impact spinal- and bulbar-onset ALS, predicting ALS severity and potentially determining the location of disease onset

Harper S. Kim, John Son, Donghwan Lee, Joy Tsai, Danny Wang, E. Sandra Chocron, Seongwoo Jeong, Pamela Kittrell, Charles F. Murchison, Richard E. Kennedy, Alejandro Tobon, Carlayne E. Jackson, Andrew M. Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Prior studies on the role of gut-microbiome in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) pathogenesis have yielded conflicting results. We hypothesized that gut- and oral-microbiome may differentially impact two clinically-distinct ALS subtypes (spinal-onset ALS (sALS) vs. bulbar-onset ALS (bALS), driving disagreement in the field. Methods: ALS patients diagnosed within 12 months and their spouses as healthy controls (n = 150 couples) were screened. For eligible sALS and bALS patients (n = 36) and healthy controls (n = 20), 16S rRNA next-generation sequencing was done in fecal and saliva samples after DNA extractions to examine gut- and oral-microbiome differences. Microbial translocation to blood was measured by blood lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and 16S rDNA levels. ALS severity was assessed by Revised ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). Results: sALS patients manifested significant gut-dysbiosis, primarily driven by increased fecal Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes-ratio (F/B-ratio). In contrast, bALS patients displayed significant oral-dysbiosis, primarily driven by decreased oral F/B-ratio. For sALS patients, gut-dysbiosis (a shift in fecal F/B-ratio), but not oral-dysbiosis, was strongly associated with greater microbial translocation to blood (r = 0.8006, P < 0.0001) and more severe symptoms (r = 0.9470, P < 0.0001). In contrast, for bALS patients, oral-dysbiosis (a shift in oral F/B-ratio), but not gut-dysbiosis, was strongly associated with greater microbial translocation to blood (r = 0.9860, P < 0.0001) and greater disease severity (r = 0.9842, P < 0.0001). For both ALS subtypes, greater microbial translocation was associated with more severe symptoms (sALS: r = 0.7924, P < 0.0001; bALS: r = 0.7496, P = 0.0067). Importantly, both sALS and bALS patients displayed comparable oral-motor deficits with associations between oral-dysbiosis and severity of oral-motor deficits in bALS but not sALS. This suggests that oral-dysbiosis is not simply caused by oral/bulbar/respiratory symptoms but represents a pathological driver of bALS. Conclusions: We found increasing gut-dysbiosis with worsening symptoms in sALS patients and increasing oral-dysbiosis with worsening symptoms in bALS patients. Our findings support distinct microbial mechanisms underlying two ALS subtypes, which have been previously grouped together as a single disease. Our study suggests correcting gut-dysbiosis as a therapeutic strategy for sALS patients and correcting oral-dysbiosis as a therapeutic strategy for bALS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number62
JournalBMC Neurology
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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