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Scientific result | Article | Mass spectrometry | Proteomics | Biomarkers | Infectious diseases

A possible link between changes in gut microbiota and fecal SARS-CoV-2 load ?

In a study conducted in collaboration with the University Hospital of Nîmes, a team from SPI (DMTS, Marcoule) used mass spectrometry to analyze the degree of alteration of the intestinal microbiota of Covid-19 patients and to look for signatures of intestinal infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The results suggest that the level of gut dysbiosis in these patients would be an indicator of the stage and extent of the infection.

Published on 12 May 2022

Dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut flora or microbiota) is observed in many digestive and extra-digestive diseases. Although Covid-19 is considered a respiratory disease, some symptoms observed in the gastro-intestinal tract have been reported. However, the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection of intestinal epithelial tissues on the disease course remains to be clarified.
In this work, conducted in close collaboration with the Nîmes CHU, researchers have demonstrated that alterations in the composition of the intestinal microbiota of hospitalized Covid-19 patients are related to the amount of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles in the intestine, at least in terms of detectable viral RNA levels. In parallel, a functional metaproteomic analysis revealed the presence of biomarkers of inflammation in these patients, including an activation of the immune response and an increase in intestinal permeability.

By developing a short list of candidate microbial and human biomarkers indicative of intestinal SARS-CoV-2 infection, the investigators hypothesize that studying intestinal dysbiosis in Covid-19 patients could better monitor the stage and extent of infection.

Contact : Lucia Grenga (

A microbiota is the set of microorganisms - bacteria, viruses, parasites and non-pathogenic fungi, called commensals - that live in a specific environment. In humans, there are several microbiota, the intestinal microbiota being the most "populated" of them, hosting 1012 to 1014 microorganisms!

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