Fecal dysbiosis in infants with cystic fibrosis is associated with early linear growth failure

Hillary S. Hayden, Alexander Eng, Christopher E. Pope, Mitchell J. Brittnacher, Anh T. Vo, Eli J. Weiss, Kyle R. Hager, Bryan D. Martin, Daniel H. Leung, Sonya L. Heltshe, Elhanan Borenstein, Samuel I. Miller*, Lucas R. Hoffman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) have pancreatic exocrine insufficiency that results in nutrient malabsorption and requires oral pancreatic enzyme replacement. Newborn screening for CF has enabled earlier diagnosis, nutritional intervention and enzyme replacement for these infants, allowing most infants with CF to achieve their weight goals by 12 months of age1. Nevertheless, most infants with CF continue to have poor linear growth during their first year of life1. Although this early linear growth failure is associated with worse long-term respiratory function and survival2,3, the determinants of body length in infants with CF have not been defined. Several characteristics of the CF gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including inflammation, maldigestion and malabsorption, may promote intestinal dysbiosis4,5. As GI microbiome activities are known to affect endocrine functions6,7, the intestinal microbiome of infants with CF may also impact growth. We identified an early, progressive fecal dysbiosis that distinguished infants with CF and low length from infants with CF and normal length. This dysbiosis included altered abundances of taxa that perform functions that are important for GI health, nutrient harvest and growth hormone signaling, including decreased abundance of Bacteroidetes and increased abundance of Proteobacteria. Thus, the GI microbiota represent a potential therapeutic target for the correction of low linear growth in infants with CF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthK24HL141669, 5P30DK089507
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesR01DK095869
Cystic Fibrosis FoundationSINGH15R0


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