The predictive role of the human gut microbiota in covid-19: implications for disease severity and post-covid syndrome

Fabbrini, Marco (2024) The predictive role of the human gut microbiota in covid-19: implications for disease severity and post-covid syndrome, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biotecnologiche, biocomputazionali, farmaceutiche e farmacologiche, 36 Ciclo.
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The COVID-19 pandemic, sparked by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, stirred global comparisons to historical pandemics. Initially presenting a high mortality rate, it later stabilized globally at around 0.5-3%. Patients manifest a spectrum of symptoms, necessitating efficient triaging for appropriate treatment strategies, ranging from symptomatic relief to antivirals or monoclonal antibodies. Beyond traditional approaches, emerging research suggests a potential link between COVID-19 severity and alterations in gut microbiota composition, impacting inflammatory responses. However, most studies focus on severe hospitalized cases without standardized criteria for severity. Addressing this gap, the first study in this thesis spans diverse COVID-19 severity levels, utilizing 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing on fecal samples from 315 subjects. The findings highlight significant microbiota differences correlated with severity. Machine learning classifiers, including a multi-layer convoluted neural network, demonstrated the potential of microbiota compositional data to predict patient severity, achieving an 84.2% mean balanced accuracy starting one week post-symptom onset. These preliminary results underscore the gut microbiota's potential as a biomarker in clinical decision-making for COVID-19. The second study delves into mild COVID-19 cases, exploring their implications for ‘long COVID’ or Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome (PACS). Employing longitudinal analysis, the study unveils dynamic shifts in microbial composition during the acute phase, akin to severe cases. Innovative techniques, including network approaches and spline-based longitudinal analysis, were deployed to assess microbiota dynamics and potential associations with PACS. The research suggests that even in mild cases, similar mechanisms to hospitalized patients are established regarding changes in intestinal microbiota during the acute phase of the infection. These findings lay the foundation for potential microbiota-targeted therapies to mitigate inflammation, potentially preventing long COVID symptoms in the broader population. In essence, these studies offer valuable insights into the intricate relationships between COVID-19 severity, gut microbiota, and the potential for innovative clinical applications.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Fabbrini, Marco
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
human gut microbiota, COVID-10, gut microbiome, bioinformatics, 16S rRNA
Data di discussione
22 Marzo 2024

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