The fecal microbiome and rotavirus vaccine immunogenicity in rural Zimbabwean infants

the SHINE Trial Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oral rotavirus vaccine (RVV) immunogenicity is considerably lower in low- versus high-income populations; however, the mechanisms underlying this remain unclear. Previous evidence suggests that the gut microbiota may contribute to differences in oral vaccine efficacy. Methods: We performed whole metagenome shotgun sequencing on stool samples and measured anti-rotavirus immunoglobulin A in plasma samples from a subset of infants enrolled in a cluster randomized 2 × 2 factorial trial of improved water, sanitation and hygiene and infant feeding in rural Zimbabwe (SHINE trial: NCT01824940). We examined taxonomic microbiome composition and functional metagenome features using random forest models, differential abundance testing and regression analyses to explored associations with RVV immunogenicity. Results: Among 158 infants with stool samples and anti-rotavirus IgA titres, 34 were RVV seroconverters. The median age at stool collection was 43 days (IQR: 35–68), corresponding to a median of 4 days before the first RVV dose. The infant microbiome was dominated by Bifidobacterium longum. The gut microbiome differed significantly between early (≤42 days) and later samples (>42 days) however, we observed no meaningful differences in alpha diversity, beta diversity, species composition or functional metagenomic features by RVV seroconversion status. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron was the only species associated with anti-rotavirus IgA titre. Random forest models poorly classified seroconversion status by both composition and functional microbiome variables. Conclusions: RVV immunogenicity is low in this rural Zimbabwean setting, however it was not associated with the composition or function of the early-life gut microbiome in this study. Further research is warranted to examine the mechanisms of poor oral RVV efficacy in low-income countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5391-5400
Number of pages10
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 7 2021


  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Oral rotavirus vaccine
  • Rotavirus
  • Shotgun metagenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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