Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways affecting one in ten children in Westernized countries. Recently, our group showed that specific bacterial genera in early life are associated with atopy and wheezing in 1-year-old children. However, little is known about the link between the early life gut microbiome and the diagnosis of asthma in preschool age children. To determine the role of the gut microbiota in preschool age asthma, children up to 4 years of age enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study were classified as asthmatic (n=39) or matched healthy controls (n=37). 16S rRNA sequencing and quantitative PCR (qPCR) were used to analyse the composition of the 3-month and 1-year gut microbiome of these children. At 3 months the abundance of the genus, Lachnospira (L), was decreased (P=0.008), whereas the abundance of the species, Clostridium neonatale (C), was increased (P=0.07) in asthmatics. Quartile analysis of stool composition at 3-months revealed a negative association between the ratio of these two bacteria (L/C) and asthma risk by 4 years of age [quartile 1: odds ratio (OR)=15, P=0.02, CI (confidence interval)= 1.8–124.7; quartile 2: OR=1.0, ns; quartile 3: OR=0.37, ns]. We conclude that opposing shifts in the relative abundances of Lachnospira and C. neonatale in the first 3 months of life are associated with preschool age asthma, and that the L/C ratio may serve as a potential early life biomarker to predict asthma development.

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