Antibiotics affect the mouth and gut differently

When we discuss antibiotic resistance, it’s not always clear where the resistance is developing or how exactly the resistance develops. A study out of the UK and Sweden looked at two niches, the gut and the mouth, to understand the difference between how the different parts of the body react to antibiotics.

The scientists discovered that these two parts of the body reacted and recovered very differently after a one-week course of antibiotics. They took fecal and saliva samples prior to the antibiotic regime and then gave the study participants a weeklong course of clindamycin, ciprofloxacin, minocycline, amoxicillin, or a placebo and continued taking fecal and saliva samples for a year.

They found that the oral microbiome recovered much faster than the gut microbiome back to its normal state. It took much longer for the gut microbiome to recover and for participants taking ciprofloxacin, diversity was changed even after 12 months. They also found that while participants largely had genes associated with antibiotic resistance in their gut prior to the trial, the amount of antibiotic resistant genes increased after taking the antibiotic. Antibiotic resistant genes in the mouth remained largely stable before and after treatment.  It was also observed that butyrate production, a health associated short-chain fatty acid, was severely affected by ciprofloxacin and clindamycin.

This raises a number of questions like why does the oral microbiome recover so much faster than the gut microbiome? And why isn’t there a similar increase in antibiotic resistant genes in the mouth like we see in the gut? While this study raises many questions, it provides an opportunity to look at the mouth and better understand what is unique about that environment in comparison to the gut. 

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