The gut microbiome of healthy Vietnamese adults and children is a major reservoir for resistance genes against critical antimicrobials.
Pereira-Dias J., Nguyen Ngoc Minh C., Tran Thi Hong C., Nguyen Thi Nguyen T., Ha Thanh T., Zellmer C., Chung The H., Pike L., Higginson EE., Baker S.
Antimicrobials are a key group of therapeutic agents. Given the animal/human population density and high antimicrobial consumption rate in Southeast Asia, the region is a focal area for monitoring antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Hypothesizing that the gastrointestinal tract of healthy individuals in Vietnam is a major source of AMR genes that may be transferred to pathogens, we performed shotgun metagenomic sequencing on fecal samples from 42 healthy Vietnamese people (21 children and 21 adults). We compared their microbiome profiles by age group and determined the composition of AMR genes. An analysis of the taxonomic profiles in the gut microbiome showed a clear differentiation by age, with young children (age <2 years) exhibiting a unique structure in comparison to adults and older children. We identified a total of 132 unique AMR genes, with MLS class resistance genes (ermB and lnuC) and tetracycline resistance genes being the almost ubiquitous across the study population. Notably, samples from younger children were significantly associated with a greater number of AMR genes than other age groups, including key signature genes associated with AMR pathogens (e.g., blaCTX-M, mphA). Our data suggest that the gut microbiome of those living in Vietnam, particularly young children, is a substantial reservoir of AMR genes, which can be transferred to circulating enteric pathogens. Our data supports the generation of longitudinal cohort studies of those living in urban and rural areas of developing countries to understand the behavior of these AMR reservoirs and their role in generating MDR and XDR pathogens.