Zierer J, Jackson MA, Kastenmüller G, Mangino M, Long T, Telenti A, Mohney RP, Small KS, Bell JT, Steves CJ, Valdes AM, Spector TD, Menni C

The fecal metabolome as a functional readout of the gut microbiome.

Nature genetics. 2018-06-01; 50.6: 790-795.

The human gut microbiome plays a key role in human health , but 16S characterization lacks quantitative functional annotation . The fecal metabolome provides a functional readout of microbial activity and can be used as an intermediate phenotype mediating host-microbiome interactions . In this comprehensive description of the fecal metabolome, examining 1,116 metabolites from 786 individuals from a population-based twin study (TwinsUK), the fecal metabolome was found to be only modestly influenced by host genetics (heritability (H) = 17.9%). One replicated locus at the NAT2 gene was associated with fecal metabolic traits. The fecal metabolome largely reflects gut microbial composition, explaining on average 67.7% (±18.8%) of its variance. It is strongly associated with visceral-fat mass, thereby illustrating potential mechanisms underlying the well-established microbial influence on abdominal obesity. Fecal metabolic profiling thus is a novel tool to explore links among microbiome composition, host phenotypes, and heritable complex traits.

PMID: 29808030

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