Linking fat intake, the intestinal microbiome, and necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants

Pediatric Research
Daniel T Robinson, Michael S Caplan

Abstract

Components of diet, including the total amounts and specific types of fat, affect the composition of the intestinal microbiome in both animal models and cohort studies of humans. Amounts of total fat and specific fatty acids (FA) are some of the most variable nutritional components of breast milk. Evaluations of the microbiome in premature infants have shown decreased diversity of species and increased proportions of potentially pathogenic bacteria. Microbial patterns in premature infants may be affected by nutritional fat intake, altering risk of diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Dietary FA may also impact disease susceptibility through molecular mechanisms. Specifically, intestinal Toll-like receptor 4 expression is altered by manipulation of FA in murine models. Abnormal increased expression of Toll-like receptor 4, the receptor for lipopolysaccharide, has been implicated in necrotizing enterocolitis. This report will review the role of dietary fat in the composition of the intestinal microbiome, the extreme variability of FA intake in premature infants, and associations of both dysbiosis and FA intake with the development of necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Related Concepts

Diet
Dietary Fats
Disease Susceptibility
Fatty Acids
Intestines
Lipopolysaccharides
Evaluation
Fatty Acid Metabolism
Receptor
Toll-like receptors

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