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This Week in Cell: Sep 19, 2018

A team from Stanford University and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System presents results from a genomic analysis of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a serious, common cardiovascular condition that's believed to have a strong genetic component. The researchers used a machine learning approach called "hierarchical estimate from agnostic learning" (HEAL) to bring together electronic health, clinical imaging, and whole-genome sequence data for 268 individuals with AAA and 133 unaffected controls, identifying potential genetic contributors that were subsequently tested in aortic tissue and mouse models. "By simultaneously modeling individual genomes and personal EHRs, HEAL revealed the interplay between the personal genome baseline and individual lifestyles underlying AAA predisposition, demonstrating its potential as a highly personalized health management tool," the authors write.

Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and other centers in Israel explore microbial communities in mucosa from different parts of the gastrointestinal tract in humans and mice, before or after receiving a probiotic made up of 11 strains. Using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and metagenomic sequencing, the team profiled samples from normally colonized mice, germ-free mice, and 15 human volunteers, looking at native gut microbiome features that bolstered resistance to colonization by the probiotics. Whereas normally colonized mice had resistance to mucosal colonization not found in the germ-free mice, the authors note, the human volunteers revealed "person-, region- and strain-specific mucosal colonization patterns, hallmarked by predictive baseline host and microbiome features, but indistinguishable by probiotics presence in stool."

In a related study, members of the same team consider gut mucosal microbiome patterns in mice or humans who received use multi-strain probiotics or autologous fecal microbiome transplantation (aFMT) after antibiotic treatment, again using metagenomic sequencing and 16S rDNA sequencing. Based on results from mice and from samples collected over time from 21 human participants who got broad spectrum antibiotics followed by spontaneous microbiome reconstitution, aFMT, or probiotic use, the authors saw enhanced probiotic colonization after microbiomes were upended by antibiotics in humans, although probiotics also seemed to slow the return of indigenous microbiomes after antibiotic use, while aFMT hastened this return to baseline bacterial communities in the gut mucosa and stool.

GenomeWeb has more on those two studies, here.