We have previously reported that the mouse gut microbiome contributes to pulmonary responses to ozone, a common asthma trigger, and that short chain fatty acids, end products of bacterial fermentation, likely contribute to this role of the microbiome. A growing body of evidence indicates sex-related differences in gut microbiota and that these differences can have important functional consequences. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were sex-related differences in the impact of the gut microbiota on pulmonary responses to ozone. After acute exposure to ozone, male mice developed greater airway hyperresponsiveness than female mice. This difference was abolished after antibiotic ablation of the gut microbiome. Moreover, weanling female pups housed in cages conditioned by adult male mice developed greater ozone-induced airway hyperresponsiveness than weanling female pups raised in cages conditioned by adult females. Finally, ad libitum oral administration via drinking water of the short chain fatty acid, propionate, resulted in augmented ozone-induced airway hyperresponsiveness in male but not in female mice. Overall, these data are consistent with the hypothesis that the microbiome contributes to sex differences in ozone-induced airway hyperresponsiveness, likely as a result of sex differences in the response to short chain fatty acids.
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