Microbiota-immune alterations in adolescents following early life adversity: A proof of concept study

Brie M. Reid, Rachael Horne, Bonny Donzella, Jake C. Szamosi, Christopher L. Coe, Jane A. Foster, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Early adverse care has long-term impacts on physical and mental health. The influence of rearing conditions on the infant's gut microbiota and its relationship with developmental health has become more evident. The microbiome is essential for normal growth and metabolism, and the signaling from the gut to the brain may underlie individual differences in resilience later in life. Microbial diversity and composition were determined using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing in fecal samples from 17 adolescents adopted internationally from orphanages into the United States and 18 adolescents reared in birth families who had similar educational and income levels. Analyses focused on diversity of the microbial community structure and differences in the abundance of specific bacterial taxa. Blood samples were used to immunophenotype the numbers of several T-cell subsets and cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositivity. Negative binomial regression analysis revealed several operational taxonomic units that were significantly different based on early rearing conditions and CMV seropositivity. There were significant associations between the relative abundance of certain taxa, the percentages of T-cell subsets in circulation, and CMV seropositivity. These findings demonstrate a possible link between the gut microbiota and associations with immune alterations initiated by early life adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-863
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent
  • early adversity
  • early experience
  • immune system
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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