Intermittent Hypoxia and Hypercapnia Reproducibly Change the Gut Microbiome and Metabolome across Rodent Model Systems


Studying perturbations in the gut ecosystem using animal models of disease continues to provide valuable insights into the role of the microbiome in various pathological conditions. However, understanding whether these changes are consistent across animal models of different genetic backgrounds, and hence potentially translatable to human populations, remains a major unmet challenge in the field. Nonetheless, in relatively limited cases have the same interventions been studied in two animal models in the same laboratory. Moreover, such studies typically examine a single data layer and time point. Here, we show the power of utilizing time series microbiome (16S rRNA amplicon profiling) and metabolome (untargeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry [LC-MS/MS]) data to relate two different mouse models of atherosclerosis— ApoE-/- (n = 24) and Ldlr-/- (n = 16)— that are exposed to intermittent hypoxia and hypercapnia (IHH) longitudinally (for 10 and 6 weeks, respectively) to model chronic obstructive sleep apnea. Using random forest classifiers trained on each data layer, we show excellent accuracy in predicting IHH exposure within ApoE-/- and Ldlr-/- knockout models and in cross-applying predictive features found in one animal model to the other. The key microbes and metabolites that reproducibly predicted IHH exposure included bacterial species from the families Mogibacteriaceae, Clostridiaceae, bile acids, and fatty acids, providing a refined set of biomarkers associated with IHH. The results highlight that time series multiomics data can be used to relate different animal models of disease using supervised machine learning techniques and can provide a pathway toward identifying robust microbiome and metabolome features that underpin translation from animal models to human disease. IMPORTANCE Reproducibility of microbiome research is a major topic of contemporary interest. Although it is often possible to distinguish individuals with specific diseases within a study, the differences are often inconsistent across cohorts, often due to systematic variation in analytical conditions. Here we study the same intervention in two different mouse models of cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis) by profiling the microbiome and metabolome in stool specimens over time. We demonstrate that shared microbial and metabolic changes are involved in both models with the intervention. We then introduce a pipeline for finding similar results in other studies. This work will help find common features identified across different model systems that are most likely to apply in humans.