Nicotine Alters the Gut Microbiome and Metabolites of Gut-Brain Interactions in a Sex-Specific Manner.
Chem Res Toxicol. 2017 12 18 ;30(12):2110-2119. Epub 2017 Nov 16. PMID: 29035044
As the primary active substance in tobacco, nicotine affects the activity of the central nervous system, and its effects are sex-dependent. There are complex interactions between the gut and brain, and the gut microbiome can influence neuronal activity and host behavior, with diverse chemical signaling being involved. However, it is unclear whether nicotine can affect the normal gut microbiome and associated chemical signaling of the gut-brain axis. Sex is an important factor that shapes the gut microbiome, but the role of sex in the interaction among nicotine, gut bacteria, and related metabolites remains unknown. In this study, we applied high-throughput sequencing and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to explore how nicotine exposure affects the gut microbiome and its metabolism in female and male C57BL/6J mice, with a focus on the chemical signaling involved in gut-brain interactions. 16S sequencing results indicated that the community composition of the gut microbiome was differentially perturbed by nicotine in females and males. Differential alterations of bacterial carbohydrate metabolic pathways are consistent with lower body weight gain in nicotine-treated males. Oxidative stress response and DNA repair genes were also specifically enriched in the nicotine-treated male gut microbiome. The fecal metabolome indicated that multiple neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and glycine, were differentially altered in female and male mice. Some neuroactive metabolites, including leucine and uric acid, were also changed. This study demonstrates a sex-dependent effect of nicotine on gut microbiome community composition, functional bacterial genes, and the fecal metabolome.