Alterations to the gut microbiome after sport-related concussion in a collegiate football players cohort: A pilot study


Concussions, both single and repetitive, cause brain and body alterations in athletes during contact sports. The role of the brain-gut connection and changes in the microbiota have not been well established after sports-related concussions or repetitive subconcussive impacts. We recruited 33 Division I Collegiate football players and collected blood, stool, and saliva samples at three time points throughout the athletic season: mid-season, following the last competitive game (post-season), and after a resting period in the off-season. Additional samples were collected from four athletes that suffered from a concussion. 16S rRNA sequencing of the gut microbiome revealed a decrease in abundance for two bacterial species, Eubacterium rectale, and Anaerostipes hadrus, after a diagnosed concussion. No significant differences were found regarding the salivary microbiome. Serum biomarker analysis shows an increase in GFAP blood levels in athletes during the competitive season. Additionally, S100β and SAA blood levels were positively correlated with the abundance of Eubacterium rectale species among the group of athletes that did not suffer a diagnosed concussion during the sports season. These findings provide initial evidence that detecting changes in the gut microbiome may help to improve concussion diagnosis following head injury.

Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health
Qi Wang
Qi Wang
PhD student from September 2018 through January 2022

Dr. Wang is a Bioinformatics Scientist at Illumina, and finished her PhD in the Treangen Lab December 2021. Previously, Dr. Wang obtained B.S. degrees in Biotechnology from Hong Kong Baptist University and MS in Biotechnology from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate, she did research in University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing University of Chemical Technology and Capital Medical University, focusing on using bioinformatics and experimental approaches to solve various life science problems, including synthetic biology, developmental biology, oncology and drug discovery. Her interest is to improve human health and environment by understanding complex biology data.

Dr. Michael Nute
Dr. Michael Nute
Postdoctoral Scientist from August 2020 through September 2022

Mike (Postdoctoral Scientist) received his Ph.D. in Statistics in 2019 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was advised by Dr. Tandy Warnow in the Department of Computer Science and worked on algorithms related to multiple sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree estimation, in particular applying these methods to studying microbial communities. He was co-advised by Dr. Rebecca Stumpf in the Department of Anthropology where he and other lab members developed novel methods to compare the microbiomes of human and non-human primates. His research interest is in discovering a new applications for our understanding of microbial communities.