Alterations in faecal microbiome and resistome in Chinese international travellers: a metagenomic analysis
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Officially Accepted for Publication

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International travel increases the risk of acquisition of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Previous studies have characterized the changes in the gut microbiome and resistome of Western travellers; however, information on non-Western populations and the effects of travel-related risk factors on the gut microbiome and resistome remains limited.

We conducted a prospective observational study on a cohort of 90 healthy Chinese adult residents of Hong Kong. We characterized the microbiome and resistome in stools collected from the subjects before and after travelling to diverse international locations using shotgun metagenomic sequencing and examined their associations with travel-related variables.

Our results showed that travel neither significantly changed the taxonomic composition of the faecal microbiota nor altered the alpha (Shannon) or beta diversity of the faecal microbiome or resistome. However, travel significantly increased the number of ARGs. Ten ARGs, including aadA, TEM, mgrB, mphA, qnrS9 and tetR, were significantly enriched in relative abundance after travel, eight of which were detected in metagenomic bins belonging to Escherichia/Shigella flexneri in the post-trip samples. In sum, 30 ARGs significantly increased in prevalence after travel, with the largest changes observed in tetD and a few qnrS variants (qnrS9, qnrS and qnrS8). We found that travel to low- or middle-income countries, or Africa or Southeast Asia, increased the number of ARG subtypes, whereas travel to low- or middle-income countries and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) or doxycycline as antimalarial prophylaxis during travel resulted in increased changes in the beta diversity of the faecal resistome.

Our study highlights travel to low- or middle-income countries, Africa or Southeast Asia, a long travel duration, or the use of ABHS or doxycycline as antimalarial prophylaxis as important risk factors for the acquisition/enrichment of ARGs during international travel.
Acceptance Date21/02/2023
All Author(s) ListCheung MK, Ng RWY, Lai CKC, Zhu C, Au ETK, Yau JWK, Li C, Wong HC, Wong BCK, Kwok KO, Chen Z, Chan PKS, Lui GCY, Ip M
Journal nameJournal of Travel Medicine
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordsantibiotic resistance genes, doxycycline, antimalarial prophylaxis, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, gut microbiome, antimicrobial resistance, Hong Kong

Last updated on 2024-16-04 at 00:11