Changes to the gut microbiome in the icu and the potential role enteral nutrition plays in maintaining microbial diversity


Clinical Dietitian, Advocate Aurora Hospitals


Research involving the human microbiome is rapidly evolving given the growing number of conditions with proposed host-microbiome interactions involved. Advances in DNA-sequencing technologies and computational software have drastically changed how researchers study the human microbiome. Numerous studies conducted in ICUs around the world have reported the gut microbiota of critically ill patients become disrupted during ICU admissions, which has been linked to worse patient outcomes. Diet plays an important role in shaping the gut microbiome and fiber content is specifically recognized for its role in shaping the microbial communities present in the GI tract. However, there is limited research available in an ICU setting that examines the impact feeding has on microbial diversity in critically ill patients. The objective of this review is to identify how the gut microbiota are altered in patients over their ICU admission, understand the various measures used to study the gut microbiome, and review the limited literature available on the role of enteral nutrition in potentially mitigating these alterations. This review will also highlight directions for future research on this topic.

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