Hein Min Tun and his team have identified specific gut microbiota markers in association with improved immune response and reduced adverse event following COVID-19 vaccines. Encouraging findings for microbiota-targeted interventions.
Objective The gut microbiota plays a key role in modulating host immune response. We conducted a prospective, observational study to examine gut microbiota composition in association with immune responses and adverse events in adults who have received the inactivated vaccine (CoronaVac; Sinovac) or the mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2; BioNTech; Comirnaty).
We performed shotgun metagenomic sequencing in stool samples of 138 COVID-19 vaccinees (37 CoronaVac and 101 BNT162b2 vaccinees) collected at baseline and 1 month after second dose of vaccination. Immune markers were measured by SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralisation test and spike receptor-binding domain IgG ELISA.
We found a significantly lower immune response in recipients of CoronaVac than BNT162b2 vaccines (p<0.05). Bifidobacterium adolescentis was persistently higher in subjects with high neutralising antibodies to CoronaVac vaccine (p=0.023) and their baseline gut microbiome was enriched in pathways related to carbohydrate metabolism (linear discriminant analysis (LDA) scores >2 and p<0.05). Neutralising antibodies in BNT162b2 vaccinees showed a positive correlation with the total abundance of bacteria with flagella and fimbriae including Roseburia faecis (p=0.028). The abundance of Prevotella copri and two Megamonas species were enriched in individuals with fewer adverse events following either of the vaccines indicating that these bacteria may play an anti-inflammatory role in host immune response (LDA scores>3 and p<0.05).
Our study has identified specific gut microbiota markers in association with improved immune response and reduced adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines. Microbiota-targeted interventions have the potential to complement effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.