Host–Microbiota Interactions in the Esophagus During Homeostasis and Allergic Inflammation

Michael Brusilovsky, Riyue Bao, Mark Rochman, Andrea M. Kemter, Cathryn R. Nagler, Marc E. Rothenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Microbiota composition and mechanisms of host–microbiota interactions in the esophagus are unclear. We aimed to uncover fundamental information about the esophageal microbiome and its potential significance to eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Methods: Microbiota composition, transplantation potential, and antibiotic responsiveness in the esophagus were established via 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing. Functional outcomes of microbiota colonization were assessed by RNA sequencing analysis of mouse esophageal epithelium and compared with the human EoE transcriptome. The impact of dysbiosis was assessed using a preclinical model of EoE. Results: We found that the murine esophagus is colonized with diverse microbial communities within the first month of life. The esophageal microbiota is distinct, dominated by Lactobacillales, and demonstrates spatial heterogeneity as the proximal and distal esophagus are enriched in Bifidobacteriales and Lactobacillales, respectively. Fecal matter transplantation restores the esophageal microbiota, demonstrating that the local environment drives diversity. Microbiota colonization modifies esophageal tissue morphology and gene expression that is enriched in pathways associated with epithelial barrier function and overlapping with genes involved in EoE, including POSTN, KLK5, and HIF1A. Finally, neonatal antibiotic treatment reduces the abundance of Lactobacillales and exaggerates type 2 inflammation in the esophagus. Clinical data substantiated loss of esophageal Lactobacillales in EoE compared with controls. Conclusions: The esophagus has a unique microbiome with notable differences between its proximal and distal regions. Fecal matter transplantation restores the esophageal microbiome. Antibiotic-induced dysbiosis exacerbates disease in a murine model of EoE. Collectively, these data establish the composition, transplantation potential, antibiotic responsiveness, and host–microbiota interaction in the esophagus and have implications for gastrointestinal health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-534.e8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bifidobacteria
  • Esophagus
  • Firmicutes
  • Lactobacillales
  • Lactobacillus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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