VCOM Research Day Program Book 2023

Medical Student Research Biomedical

24 The Effect of Disinfectant Exposure on Multigenerational Changes in the Microbiome and its Influence on Development of Immune Function

Chris Kim 1 ; Alan Chiang 1 ; Sarah Lowen 1 ; Valerie A McDonald 1 ; Xin Luo 2 ; Terry C Hrubec 1,2 Corresponding author:

1 Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus 2 VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

With the widespread use of disinfectants in both clinical and non-clinical settings, we are interested in the resulting effect that such use has on the gut microbiome in exposed individuals. Quaternary Ammonia compound disinfectants are commonly used in household and medical settings. While long considered safe, they recently have been shown to cause infertility, birth defects, and alter immune function. Once absorbed into the body, they are eliminated through the gastrointestinal tract, putting an active disinfectant in contact with the gut microbiome. Through a randomized controlled study, mice were separated into three groups – those directly exposed orally through the feed (dosed), those indirectly exposed through normal use of the disinfectant in the mouse room (ambient), and those who were not exposed at all (control). Ten pairs of mice in each group were exposed for 10 days and then were bred and produced litters. Exposure of this first generation of offspring was terminated at weaning. All mice were removed to a clean environment. Ten pairs

of mice from this first generation were then bred to produce a second generation of progeny. Additionally, ten pairs of mice from second generation were bred to produce the third generation of progeny. The gut microbiome from the feces was analyzed for each mouse in all treatment groups and generations. Analysis was conducted at two time points upon initiation of exposure, and also at two timepoints upon termination of exposure. Data analysis, segregated by sex, examined the relative frequency of bacteria at different taxonomic levels starting with phylum down to species. T-tests were used to compare control vs. dosed groups, control vs. ambient groups, and ambient vs. dosed groups. A paired T-test was used to compare between the timepoints. Lasty, a two-way ANOVA analysis was used to examine if there was an interaction between time and treatment on the microbiome. We hypothesize that the presence of an active disinfectant in contact with the gut microbiome in both the dosed and ambient groups will affect the relative frequency of bacteria present at each

taxonomic level compared to controls. Preliminary analysis found greater changes to their microbiome in males. The microbiomes of ambiently exposed males were not different from dosed males; however, the microbiomes of ambiently exposed females were often different from their dosed counterparts. Once the microbiome analysis is complete, changes in taxa will be related to differences in immune function in the exposed mice.

This work was funded by the VCOM One Health Program.


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