Antibiotics affect male, female gut microbiome differently

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

July 21, 2022 -- Antibiotics affect the gut microbiome differently whether you’re male or female, a new preclinical animal study found.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) program compared the gut microbe composition of male and female rats before, during, and after treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics, including vancomycin, ampicillin, metronidazole, and neomycin (Frontiers in Microbiology, June 9, 2022).

The constellation of gut microbes did not return to their original, preantibiotic compositions in either sex during the duration of the study but sex-specific differences were shown. For instance, less gut microbe diversity was observed in stool samples and the small bowel in male rodents when compared with female rodents.

The researchers concluded more studies are needed that investigate various combinations of antibiotics and exposure times. However, if the sex-specific findings hold true for humans, that could change the way antibiotics are prescribed.

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