Welcome to the ArRiEta lab
The early-life microbiome
in health & disease
in health & disease
Microbial colonization begins at birth, rapidly populating every surface in contact with the environment, giving rise to stable communities, or microbiomes. Microbes have been studied for decades due to their roles in infectious diseases, but we are now starting to comprehend the significant impact of the microbiome on our health. In the Arrieta lab, our primary focus is the communication between the early-life microbiome and developmental programming events necessary for a healthy start in life.
"The world is covered in a fine patina of feces"
- Stanley Falkow.
what do we research?
- How humans begin their life in the company of trillions of microbes
- How these microbes help define key aspects of our immune, metabolic and neurodevelopment.
To tackle these complex questions, our lab has developed an expertise in translating human cohort discoveries into animal models using principally the workflow below
Our lab is involved in clinical and preclinical research. Using Next Generation Sequencing of microbiome samples with Metabolomics and Immunological Profiling in both humans and animal models of diseases, we aim to decipher the role of the Bacterial Microbiome and fungal microbiome Mycobiome in chronic diseases. These include Asthma inflammatory bowel disease IBD, Obesity, Stress Axis & Neurodevelopment.
Research flow overview
technical expertises in early-life microbiome
Longitudinal observational studies
Preterm and term infants
Sequencing 16S, 18S, ITS
Multivariate statistical models
Microbial network interactions
Research topics OVERVIEW
Asthma is one of the most common immune-mediated diseases affecting children and adults worldwide. Asthma is a complex condition that develops by a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. Amongst the many environmental factors that influence asthma incidence, early-life alterations to the gut microbiome are strongly associated with asthma susceptibility in children. Data from diverse population-based studies repeatedly show that factors such as birth via Caesarian (C-section), exclusive formula feeding, urban (vs. farm) living, prenatal and neonatal use of antibiotics, among others also known to directly influence the composition and function of the gut microbiome, increase the risk of children for being diagnosed with asthma by school age. The Arrieta lab aims to characterize how various environmental factors impact the microbiome and the specific microbial signatures that may predispose infants to asthma.
NEURODEVELOPMENT & STRESS AXIS
The gut microbiome and the brain communicate bi-directionally via several host- and microbially-derived signaling mechanisms, forming the microbiome-gut-brain axis. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the principal regulator of the stress response in the body through the release of glucocorticoids such as cortisol. The microbiome has been causally implicated in HPA axis programming in early life in rodents, however, understandings in humans remain limited. Given the gut microbiome and the brain undergo periods of significant development in parallel in early life, and the microbiome-gut-brain axis is increasingly recognized as a key mechanism by which the microbiome influences host development and health outcomes, our lab seeks to better understand this relationship through both translational and clinical studies.
metabolic syndromE & obesity
It has been previously established that the microbiome plays a crucial role in host metabolism and metabolic development. Additionally, the immune system, which has also been found to be regulated by the microbiome, has been implicated in the metabolic inflammation that accompanies obesity. While the role of bacterial commensals has been extensively investigated, the fungal population (mycobiome) remains understudied in this context. For this reason, the Arrieta lab aims to take a multi-kingdom approach to explore how commensal microbes modulate host metabolism as well as the immunological consequences of this relationship. We also plan to determine how the microbiome can be harnessed for therapeutic benefit in a metabolic context.
The Arrieta lab’s interest in the microbiome also extends past early life to the microbiome’s role in metabolism, immune function and colonization resistance. It is known that certain microbiome metabolites, such as SCFAs, can limit some pathogen’s ability to infect their hosts, and the Arrieta lab, along with some fantastic collaborators, is investigating the role of some novel microbiome-produced small aromatic molecules (MPSAMs). The effect of these molecules on colonization resistance against and virulence factors of Salmonella and EPEC infection, as well as their role in regulating host immune and metabolic functions is currently being investigated.
A central goal of the Arrieta lab is to advance our ecological understandings of the early life gut microbiome, as this is fundamental to generating meaningful progress in health outcome-related microbiome research. The microbiome is a complex, multi-kingdom ecosystem, however, most research to date has focused only on characterizing the composition and functional role of bacteria. This provides an incomplete portrayal of the complex ecological dynamics occurring both within the gut and in relation to host physiological processes. Research from our lab has shown that bacteria and fungi are engaged in several symbiotic relationships, including in relation to immune responses, although much remains to be elucidated in understanding these interactions. The Arrieta lab continuously seeks to better characterize interkingdom dynamics occurring within the gut microbiome and understand their varied influences on the development and function of host physiological systems.
Alberta BLOOM is an important research initiative at the University of Calgary aiming to discover how the maternal and infant microbiome impact infant and child health. The Arrieta lab leads a clinical cohort study of premature infants born in Calgary called the Alberta BLOOM Study. This study follows premature infants from birth to three years of age, collecting comprehensive biological and clinical data that enables us to examine microbiome development during this period through a number of lenses. Given colonization patterns of the premature infant gut microbiome are known to differ from term-born infants, our goal is to better understand how these early alterations may impact infant development and long-term health outcomes, and to determine whether microbiome-based therapeutics may be employed to improve health outcomes in this population.