Background. The incidence of hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has increased in recent years, making it a very common childhood illness worldwide. The relationship between different enterovirus genotypes and disease severity is not clearly understood. Given that enteroviruses are transmitted through the gastrointestinal tract, we hypothesized that variation in intestinal microorganisms of the host might play a role in the prognosis of HFMD.
Methods. We carried out a meta-transcriptomic-wide association study of fecal samples obtained from a cohort of children (254 patients, 227 tested positive for enterovirus, including 16 patient co-infection with 2 kinds of enterovirus) with mild and severe HFMD and healthy controls.
Results. We found there was no significant difference in the amount of each virus type between the mild and severe cases. Genes of enterovirus 71 (EV71) and coxsackievirus A (CV-A) from the severe and mild cases did not show significant clustering. Clostridium sp. L2-50 and Bacteroides stercoris ATCC 43183 were enriched in the guts of children with severe HFMD and KEGG enrichment was found between mild and severe cases.
Conclusions. Intestinal microorganisms appear to interact with enterovirus to determine the progression of HFMD. Genes of Bacteroides and Clostridium may be used as predictive markers for a more efficient prognosis and intervention. The enrichment of intestinal bacteria genes with functions may facilitate the development of severe symptoms for HFMD patients.