Urinary Metabolites of Green Tea as Potential Markers of Colonization Resistance to Pathogenic Gut Bacteria in Mice

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Mark E. Obrenovich
George Eugene Jaskiw
Thriveen Sankar Chittoor Mana
Christina P. Bennett
Jennifer Cadnum Cadnum
Curtis J. Donskey


Background: The gut microbiome (GMB) generates numerous chemicals that are absorbed systemically and excreted in urine. Antibiotics can disrupt the GMB ecosystem and weaken its resistance to colonization by enteric pathogens such as Clostridium difficile. If the changes in GMB composition and metabolism are sufficiently large, they can be reflected in the urinary metabolome. Characterizing these changes could provide a potentially valuable biomarker of the status of the GMB. While preliminary studies suggest such a possibility, the high level of data variance presents a challenge to translational applications. Since many GMB-generated chemicals are derived from the biotransformation of plant-derived dietary polyphenols, administering an oral precursor challenge should amplify GMB-dependent changes in urinary metabolites.

Methods: A course of antibiotics (clindamycin, piperacillin/tazobactam, or aztreonam) was administered SC daily (days 1 and 2) to mice receiving polyphenol-rich green tea in drinking water. Urine was collected at baseline as well as days 3, 7, and 11. Levels of pyrogallol and pyrocatechol, two phenolic molecules unequivocally GMB-dependent in man but that had not been similarly examined in mice, were quantified.

Results: In confirmation of our hypothesis, differential changes in murine urinary pyrogallol levels identified the treatments (clindamycin, piperacillin/tazobactam) previously associated with a weakening of colonization resistance to Clostridium difficile. The changes in pyrocatechol levels did not withstand corrections for multiple comparisons.

Conclusions: In the mouse, urinary pyrogallol and, in all likelihood, pyrocatechol levels, are GMB-dependent and, in combination with precursor challenge, deserve further consideration as potential metabolomic biomarkers for the health and dysbiotic vulnerability of the GMB.


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Author Biography

George Eugene Jaskiw, Louis Stokes Cleveland DVAMC, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine


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