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head of the department: Prof. Krause

Recent Submissions

  • Immune monitoring after pediatric liver transplantation - the prospective ChilSFree cohort study.

    Goldschmidt, Imeke; Karch, André; Mikolajczyk, Rafael; Mutschler, Frauke; Junge, Norman; Pfister, Eva Doreen; Möhring, Tamara; d'Antiga, Lorenzo; McKiernan, Patrick; Kelly, Deirdre; Debray, Dominique; McLin, Valérie; Pawlowska, Joanna; Hierro, Loreto; Daemen, Kerstin; Keil, Jana; Falk, Christine; Baumann, Ulrich; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-16)
    Although trough levels of immunosuppressive drugs are largely used to monitor immunosuppressive therapy after solid organ transplantation, there is still no established tool that allows for a validated assessment of functional degree of immunosuppression or the identification of clinically relevant over- or under-immunosuppression, depending on graft homeostasis. Reliable non-invasive markers to predict biopsy proven acute rejection (BPAR) do not exist. Literature data suggest that longitudinal measurements of immune markers might be predictive of BPAR, but data in children are scarce. We therefore propose an observational prospective cohort study focusing on immune monitoring in children after liver transplantation. We aim to describe immune function in a cohort of children before and during the first year after liver transplantation and plan to investigate how the immune function profile is associated with clinical and laboratory findings. In an international multicenter prospective approach, children with end-stage liver disease who undergo liver transplantation are enrolled to the study and receive extensive immune monitoring before and at 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks and 3, 6, 12 months after transplantation, and whenever a clinically indicated liver biopsy is scheduled. Blood samples are analyzed for immune cell numbers and circulating levels of cytokines, chemokines and factors of angiogenesis reflecting immune cell activation. Statistical analysis will focus on the identification of trajectorial patterns of immune reactivity predictive for systemic non-inflammatory states, infectious complications or BPAR using joint modelling approaches. The ChilSFree study will help to understand the immune response after pLTx in different states of infection or rejection. It may provide insight into response mechanisms eventually facilitating immune tolerance towards the graft. Our analysis may yield an applicable immune panel for non-invasive early detection of acute cellular rejection, with the prospect of individually tailoring immunosuppressive therapy. The international collaborative set-up of this study allows for an appropriate sample size which is otherwise difficult to achieve in the field of pediatric liver transplantation.
  • Survival of children after liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma.

    Baumann, Ulrich; Adam, René; Duvoux, Christophe; Mikolajczyk, Rafael; Karam, Vincent; D'Antiga, Lorenzo; Chardot, Christophe; Coker, Ahmet; Colledan, Michele; Ericzon, Bo-Goran; Line, Pål Dag; Hadzic, Nedim; Isoniemi, Helena; Klempnauer, Jürgen L; Reding, Raymond; McKiernan, Patrick J; McLin, Valérie; Paul, Andreas; Salizzoni, Mauro; Furtado, Emanuel San Bento; Schneeberger, Stefan; Karch, André; the European Liver and Intestine Transplant Association; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in childhood differs from adult HCC because it is often associated with inherited liver disease. It is, however, unclear whether liver transplantation (LT) for HCC in childhood with or without associated inherited disease has a comparable outcome to adult HCC. On the basis of data from the European Liver Transplant Registry (ELTR), we aimed to investigate if there are differences in patient and graft survival after LT for HCC between children and adults and between patients with underlying inherited versus noninherited liver disease, respectively. We included all 175 children who underwent LT for HCC and were enrolled in ELTR between 1985 and 2012. Of these, 38 had an associated inherited liver disease. Adult HCC patients with (n = 79) and without (n = 316, matched by age, sex, and LT date) inherited liver disease served as an adult comparison population. We used multivariable piecewise Cox regression models with shared frailty terms (for LT center) to compare patient and graft survival between the different HCC groups. Survival analyses demonstrated a superior longterm survival of children with inherited liver disease when compared with children with HCC without inherited liver disease (hazard ratio [HR], 0.29; 95% CI, 0.10-0.90; P = 0.03) and adults with HCC with inherited liver disease (HR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.06-1.25; P = 0.09). There was no survival difference between adults with and without inherited disease (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.66-1.66; P = 0.84). In conclusion, the potential survival advantage of children with an HCC based on inherited disease should be acknowledged when considering transplantation and prioritization for these patients. Further prospective studies accounting for tumor size and extension at LT are necessary to fully interpret our findings. Liver Transplantation 24 246-255 2018 AASLD.
  • Development of a Bead-Based Multiplex Assay for the Analysis of the Serological Response against the Six Pathogens HAV, HBV, HCV, CMV, T. gondii, and H. pylori.

    Filomena, Angela; Pessler, Frank; Akmatov, Manas K; Krause, Gérard; Duffy, Darragh; Gärtner, Barbara; Gerhard, Markus; Albert, Matthew L; Joos, Thomas O; Schneiderhan-Marra, Nicole; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10-30)
    The spread of infectious diseases and vaccination history are common subjects of epidemiological and immunological research studies. Multiplexed serological assays are useful tools for assessing both current and previous infections as well as vaccination efficacy. We developed a serological multi-pathogen assay for hepatitis A, B and C virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV),
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Total Prion Protein in the Spectrum of Prion Diseases.

    Villar-Piqué, Anna; Schmitz, Matthias; Lachmann, Ingolf; Karch, André; Calero, Olga; Stehmann, Christiane; Sarros, Shannon; Ladogana, Anna; Poleggi, Anna; Santana, Isabel; Ferrer, Isidre; Mitrova, Eva; Žáková, Dana; Pocchiari, Maurizio; Baldeiras, Inês; Calero, Miguel; Collins, Steven J; Geschwind, Michael D; Sánchez-Valle, Raquel; Zerr, Inga; Llorens, Franc; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-07-30)
    Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) total prion protein (t-PrP) is decreased in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). However, data on the comparative signatures of t-PrP across the spectrum of prion diseases, longitudinal changes during disease progression, and levels in pre-clinical cases are scarce. T-PrP was quantified in neurological diseases (ND, n = 147) and in prion diseases from different aetiologies including sporadic (sCJD, n = 193), iatrogenic (iCJD, n = 12) and genetic (n = 209) forms. T-PrP was also measured in serial lumbar punctures obtained from sCJD cases at different symptomatic disease stages, and in asymptomatic prion protein gene (PRNP) mutation carriers. Compared to ND, t-PrP concentrations were significantly decreased in sCJD, iCJD and in genetic prion diseases associated with the three most common mutations E200K, V210I (associated with genetic CJD) and D178N-129M (associated with fatal familial insomnia). In contrast, t-PrP concentrations in P102L mutants (associated with the Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome) remained unaltered. In serial lumbar punctures obtained at different disease stages of sCJD patients, t-PrP concentrations inversely correlated with disease progression. Decreased mean t-PrP values were detected in asymptomatic D178-129M mutant carriers, but not in E200K and P102L carriers. The presence of low CSF t-PrP is common to all types of prion diseases regardless of their aetiology albeit with mutation-specific exceptions in a minority of genetic cases. In some genetic prion disease, decreased levels are already detected at pre-clinical stages and diminish in parallel with disease progression. Our data indicate that CSF t-PrP concentrations may have a role as a pre-clinical or early symptomatic diagnostic biomarker in prion diseases as well as in the evaluation of therapeutic interventions.
  • Changes in risk perceptions during the 2014 Ebola virus disease epidemic: results of two consecutive surveys among the general population in Lower Saxony, Germany.

    Obenauer, Julie; Rübsamen, Nicole; Garsevanidze, Ekaterine; Karch, André; Mikolajczyk, Rafael T; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-15)
    The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak 2014 received extensive news media coverage, which faded out before the outbreak ended. News media coverage impacts risk perception; it is, however, unclear if the components of risk perception (affective and cognitive responses) change differently over time. In an online panel, we asked participants (n = 1376) about EVD risk perceptions at the epidemic's peak (November 2014) and after news media coverage faded out (August 2015). We investigated worry (affective response), perceived likelihood of infection, perceived personal impact, and coping efficacy (dimensions of cognitive response), and knowledge about transmission. Differences between the surveys with respect to manifestations of affective and cognitive dimensions were tested using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. The association between individual change in knowledge and worries about EVD in the first survey was investigated using linear regression. In November 2014, the survey was filled in by 974 participants. Ten months later, 662 of them were still members of the online panel and were invited to the follow-up survey. Among the 620 respondents, affective response decreased between the surveys. Knowledge about EVD also decreased; however, participants worried about EVD in 2014 had increased knowledge in 2015. Perceived likelihood of infection decreased over time, while perceived personal impact and coping efficacy did not. Risk communication appealing to cognitive reactions by informing clearly on the risk of infection in unaffected countries may decrease inappropriate behaviors.
  • Antibiotic use on paediatric inpatients in a teaching hospital in the Gambia, a retrospective study.

    Chaw, Pa Saidou; Schlinkmann, Kristin Maria; Raupach-Rosin, Heike; Karch, André; Pletz, Mathias W; Huebner, Johannes; Nyan, Ousman; Mikolajczyk, Rafael; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Antibiotics are useful but increasing resistance is a major problem. Our objectives were to assess antibiotic use and microbiology testing in hospitalized children in the Gambia. We conducted a retrospective analysis of paediatric inpatient data at The Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul, The Gambia. We extracted relevant data from the admission folders of all patients (aged > 28 days to 15 years) admitted in 2015 (January-December), who received at least one antibiotic for 24 h. We also reviewed the microbiology laboratory record book to obtain separate data for the bacterial isolates and resistance test results of all the paediatric inpatients during the study period. Over half of the admitted patients received at least one antibiotic during admission (496/917) with a total consumption of 670.7 Days of Antibiotic Therapy/1000 Patient-Days. The clinical diagnoses included an infectious disease for 398/496, 80.2% of the patients on antibiotics, pneumonia being the most common (184/496, 37.1%). There were 51 clinically relevant bacterial isolates, More than half of the admitted patients received antibiotics. The reported antibiotic resistance was highest to the most commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin. Efforts to maximize definitive antibiotic indication such as microbiological testing prior to start of antibiotics should be encouraged where possible for a more rational antibiotic use.
  • Adolescent health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region: findings from the global burden of disease 2015 study.

    Karch, Andre; GBD 2015 Eastern Mediterranean Region Adolescent Health Collaborators.; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-01)
    The 22 countries of the East Mediterranean Region (EMR) have large populations of adolescents aged 10-24 years. These adolescents are central to assuring the health, development, and peace of this region. We described their health needs. Using data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 (GBD 2015), we report the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for adolescents in the EMR from 1990 to 2015. We also report the prevalence of key health risk behaviors and determinants. Communicable diseases and the health consequences of natural disasters reduced substantially between 1990 and 2015. However, these gains have largely been offset by the health impacts of war and the emergence of non-communicable diseases (including mental health disorders), unintentional injury, and self-harm. Tobacco smoking and high body mass were common health risks amongst adolescents. Additionally, many EMR countries had high rates of adolescent pregnancy and unmet need for contraception. Even with the return of peace and security, adolescents will have a persisting poor health profile that will pose a barrier to socioeconomic growth and development of the EMR.
  • Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders during 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.

    GBD 2015 Neurological Disorders Collaborator Group.; Karch, André; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-01)
    BACKGROUND: Comparable data on the global and country-specific burden of neurological disorders and their trends are crucial for health-care planning and resource allocation. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) Study provides such information but does not routinely aggregate results that are of interest to clinicians specialising in neurological conditions. In this systematic analysis, we quantified the global disease burden due to neurological disorders in 2015 and its relationship with country development level. METHODS: We estimated global and country-specific prevalence, mortality, disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), years of life lost (YLLs), and years lived with disability (YLDs) for various neurological disorders that in the GBD classification have been previously spread across multiple disease groupings. The more inclusive grouping of neurological disorders included stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, tetanus, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, migraine, tension-type headache, medication overuse headache, brain and nervous system cancers, and a residual category of other neurological disorders. We also analysed results based on the Socio-demographic Index (SDI), a compound measure of income per capita, education, and fertility, to identify patterns associated with development and how countries fare against expected outcomes relative to their level of development. FINDINGS: Neurological disorders ranked as the leading cause group of DALYs in 2015 (250·7 [95% uncertainty interval (UI) 229·1 to 274·7] million, comprising 10·2% of global DALYs) and the second-leading cause group of deaths (9·4 [9·1 to 9·7] million], comprising 16·8% of global deaths). The most prevalent neurological disorders were tension-type headache (1505·9 [UI 1337·3 to 1681·6 million cases]), migraine (958·8 [872·1 to 1055·6] million), medication overuse headache (58·5 [50·8 to 67·4 million]), and Alzheimer's disease and other dementias (46·0 [40·2 to 52·7 million]). Between 1990 and 2015, the number of deaths from neurological disorders increased by 36·7%, and the number of DALYs by 7·4%. These increases occurred despite decreases in age-standardised rates of death and DALYs of 26·1% and 29·7%, respectively; stroke and communicable neurological disorders were responsible for most of these decreases. Communicable neurological disorders were the largest cause of DALYs in countries with low SDI. Stroke rates were highest at middle levels of SDI and lowest at the highest SDI. Most of the changes in DALY rates of neurological disorders with development were driven by changes in YLLs. INTERPRETATION: Neurological disorders are an important cause of disability and death worldwide. Globally, the burden of neurological disorders has increased substantially over the past 25 years because of expanding population numbers and ageing, despite substantial decreases in mortality rates from stroke and communicable neurological disorders. The number of patients who will need care by clinicians with expertise in neurological conditions will continue to grow in coming decades. Policy makers and health-care providers should be aware of these trends to provide adequate services.
  • Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 328 diseases and injuries for 195 countries, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.

    GBD 2016 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators.; Karch, André; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-16)
  • Global, regional, and national under-5 mortality, adult mortality, age-specific mortality, and life expectancy, 1970-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.

    GBD 2016 Mortality Collaborators.; Karch, André; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-16)
  • Poor knowledge of vaccination recommendations and negative attitudes towards vaccinations are independently associated with poor vaccination uptake among adults - Findings of a population-based panel study in Lower Saxony, Germany.

    Akmatov, Manas K; Rübsamen, Nicole; Deyneko, Igor V; Karch, André; Mikolajczyk, Rafael T; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    The aims of this study were to (a) assess knowledge of official vaccination recommendations and attitudes towards vaccinations among adults and (b) examine their association with vaccination uptake among adults.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid neurofilament light levels in neurodegenerative dementia: Evaluation of diagnostic accuracy in the differential diagnosis of prion diseases.

    Zerr, Inga; Schmitz, Matthias; Karch, André; Villar-Piqué, Anna; Kanata, Eirini; Golanska, Ewa; Díaz-Lucena, Daniela; Karsanidou, Aikaterini; Hermann, Peter; Knipper, Tobias; Goebel, Stefan; Varges, Daniela; Sklaviadis, Theodoros; Sikorska, Beata; Liberski, Pawel P; Santana, Isabel; Ferrer, Isidro; Zetterberg, Henrik; Blennow, Kaj; Calero, Olga; Calero, Miguel; Ladogana, Anna; Sánchez-Valle, Raquel; Baldeiras, Inês; Llorens, Franc; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02-03)
    Neurofilament light (NFL) levels in the cerebrospinal fluid are increased in several neurodegenerative dementias. However, their diagnostic accuracy in the differential diagnostic context is unknown.
  • Utilization of host polyamines in alternatively activated macrophages promotes chronic infection byBrucella abortus.

    Kerrinnes, Tobias; Winter, Maria G; Young, Briana M; Diaz-Ochoa, Vladimir E; Winter, Sebastian E; Tsolis, Renée M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-04)
    Treatment of intracellular bacterial pathogens with antibiotic therapy often requires a long course of multiple antibiotics. A barrier to developing strategies that enhance antibiotic efficacy against these pathogens is our poor understanding of the intracellular nutritional environment that maintains bacterial persistence. The intracellular pathogenBrucella abortussurvives and replicates preferentially in alternatively activated macrophages (AAM), however knowledge of the metabolic adaptations promoting exploitation of this niche is limited. Here we show that one mechanism promoting enhanced survival in AAM is a shift in macrophage arginine utilization from production of nitric oxide (NO) to biosynthesis of polyamines, induced by IL-4/IL-13 treatment.B. abortusis unable to synthesize polyamines, however production of polyamines by infected AAM promoted both intracellular survival of bacteria and chronic infection in mice, as inhibition of macrophage polyamine synthesis or inactivation of theB. abortusputrescine transporterpotIHGFreduced both intracellular survival in AAM and persistence in mice. These results demonstrate that increased intracellular availability of polyamines induced by arginase-1 expression in IL-4/IL-13-induced AAM promotes chronic persistence ofB. abortuswithin this niche and suggest that targeting of this pathway may aid in eradicating chronic infection.
  • ["I cannot kiss my wife"- An Analysis of Daily Experiences of MRSA-carriers].

    Raupach-Rosin, H; Klett-Tammen, C J; Schmalz, O; Karch, A; Castell, S; Mikolajczyk, R; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12)
    Objectives: There are no data available on the quality of care after discharge from hospital and only limited data are available on the psychosocial effects of being an MRSA carrier within the German health system.Methods:Patients who tested positive for MRSA in the previous year were invited to take part in focus groups.Results:2 focus groups with a total of 9 MRSA-carriers were conducted. The level of knowledge about MRSA differed between participants. In some cases, lack of information led to uncertainty and inappropriate measures to counteract MRSA. Some participants restricted their social contacts, especially to children, in order to prevent transmission. Patients experienced stigmatization in the health care system more often in inpatient care than in the outpatient sector. Only in a few cases both eradication therapy and swabs for control purposes were carried out.Conclusions:Information about the appropriate treatment and management of MRSA should be made available to patients more easily; in particular, patients need to be informed that MRSA is no threat to healthy individuals. Despite the desire of MRSA-carriers to become MRSA negative, treatment and control of MRSA seem to have low priority in the ambulant health care sector in Germany.
  • Public Health Research Resulting from One of the World's Largest Outbreaks Caused by Entero-Hemorrhagic Escherichia coli in Germany 2011: A Review.

    Köckerling, Elena; Karrasch, Laura; Schweitzer, Aparna; Razum, Oliver; Krause, Gerard; Helmhotz Zentrum füt Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    In 2011, Germany experienced one of the largest outbreaks of entero-hemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) ever reported. Four years thereafter, we systematically searched for scientific publications in PubMed and MEDPILOT relating to this outbreak in order to assess the pattern of respective research activities and to assess the main findings and recommendations in the field of public health. Following PRISMA guidelines, we selected 133 publications, half of which were published within 17 months after outbreak onset. Clinical medicine was covered by 71, microbiology by 60, epidemiology by 46, outbreak reporting by 11, and food safety by 9 papers. Those on the last three topics drew conclusions on methods in surveillance, diagnosis, and outbreak investigation, on resources in public health, as well as on inter-agency collaboration, and public communication. Although the outbreak primarily affected Germany, most publications were conducted by multinational cooperations. Our findings document how soon and in which fields research was conducted with respect to this outbreak.
  • Changing infection patterns - New evidence on the prevalence of nosocomial infections and antibiotic resistance in hospitals in Germany

    Krause, Gerard; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Deutscher Arzte-Verlag GmbH, 2018-02-06)
    Editorial to accompany the articles: „The Prevalence of Nosocomial Infection and Antibiotic Use in German Hospitals“ by Michael Behnke et al. and „Surveillance of Antibiotic Use and Resistance in Intensive Care Units (SARI)—A 15-year Cohort Study“ by Cornelius Remschmidt et al. in this issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International
  • Effects of pathogen dependency in a multi-pathogen infectious disease system including population level heterogeneity - a simulation study.

    Bakuli, Abhishek; Klawonn, Frank; Karch, André; Mikolajczyk, Rafael T; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-13)
    Increased computational resources have made individual based models popular for modelling epidemics. They have the advantage of incorporating heterogeneous features, including realistic population structures (like e.g. households). Existing stochastic simulation studies of epidemics, however, have been developed mainly for incorporating single pathogen scenarios although the effect of different pathogens might directly or indirectly (e.g. via contact reductions) effect the spread of each pathogen. The goal of this work was to simulate a stochastic agent based system incorporating the effect of multiple pathogens, accounting for the household based transmission process and the dependency among pathogens.
  • Colonic Butyrate-Producing Communities in Humans: an Overview Using Omics Data.

    Vital, Marius; Karch, André; Pieper, Dietmar H.; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-18)
    Given the key role of butyrate for host health, understanding the ecology of intestinal butyrate-producing communities is a top priority for gut microbiota research. To this end, we performed a pooled analysis on 2,387 metagenomic/transcriptomic samples from 15 publicly available data sets that originated from three continents and encompassed eight diseases as well as specific interventions. For analyses, a gene catalogue was constructed from gene-targeted assemblies of all genes from butyrate synthesis pathways of all samples and from an updated reference database derived from genome screenings. We demonstrate that butyrate producers establish themselves within the first year of life and display high abundances (>20% of total bacterial community) in adults regardless of origin. Various bacteria form this functional group, exhibiting a biochemical diversity including different pathways and terminal enzymes, where one carbohydrate-fueled pathway was dominant with butyryl coenzyme A (CoA):acetate CoA transferase as the main terminal enzyme. Subjects displayed a high richness of butyrate producers, and 17 taxa, primarily members of the Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae along with some Bacteroidetes, were detected in >70% of individuals, encompassing ~85% of the total butyrate-producing potential. Most of these key taxa were also found to express genes for butyrate formation, indicating that butyrate producers occupy various niches in the gut ecosystem, concurrently synthesizing that compound. Furthermore, results from longitudinal analyses propose that diversity supports functional stability during ordinary life disturbances and during interventions such as antibiotic treatment. A reduction of the butyrate-producing potential along with community alterations was detected in various diseases, where patients suffering from cardiometabolic disorders were particularly affected. IMPORTANCE Studies focusing on taxonomic compositions of the gut microbiota are plentiful, whereas its functional capabilities are still poorly understood. Specific key functions deserve detailed investigations, as they regulate microbiota-host interactions and promote host health and disease. The production of butyrate is among the top targets since depletion of this microbe-derived metabolite is linked to several emerging noncommunicable diseases and was shown to facilitate establishment of enteric pathogens by disrupting colonization resistance. In this study, we established a workflow to investigate in detail the composition of the polyphyletic butyrate-producing community from omics data extracting its biochemical and taxonomic diversity. By combining information from various publicly available data sets, we identified universal ecological key features of this functional group and shed light on its role in health and disease. Our results will assist the development of precision medicine to combat functional dysbiosis.

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