EarlyVir is a Danish, French, Canadian collaboration.
Chronic inflammatory diseases are on the rise in the westernized world, correlating to various environmental factors. Birth mode and diet are examples of environmental factors influencing early life gut microbiota (GM) colonization and maturation – and there is growing evidence that the negative effects of these factors on human health are mediated via GM alterations. We hypothesize that bacteriophages (viruses attacking bacteria) play a pivotal role in shaping the GM during early life and thus also influence risk of later disease development.
The ambitious aim of EarlyVir is to investigate how the gut virome is influenced by feeding regimes and dietary supplementation and to study the role of the early-life virome in the origins of chronic childhood disorders. The foundation of the project is the unmatched mother-child birth cohort COPSAC2010. Copenhagen Prospective studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) follows 738 unselected pregnant women and their 700 children from pregnancy week 24 and during the first 6 years of life. The mothers in COPSAC2010 were randomized to one of four groups receiving either no supplement; vitamin D, n-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) or both during pregnancy. From this cohort we will extract intact viromes (the viral/phage GM component) from fecal samples obtained at 1 year of life; sequence, assemble and annotate the viromes; establish phage-host pairs by a cultivation-based approach and study CRISPR-Cas bacterial defense mechanisms to discover on-going phage-bacteria interactions in the gut.
The novelty of this project lies in the analysis of the early life gut virome of 700 children at the age of 1 year. Influence of diet (breast vs. formula feeding) and dietary supplementation (n-3 LCPUFA and Vitamin D) during pregnancy will be the primary focus points, but likely novel findings on the impact of birth mode (vaginal vs. cesarean section) on the gut virome might also emerge. We will examine the correlation between the early-life gut virome and disease development, focusing on asthma, eczema and allergic sensitization. This will provide key information on the role of the gut virome in disease development and will contribute to identify microbial markers predisposing for either health or disease development.