Nature communications. 2019-10-03; 10.1: 4505.

Interplay between the human gut microbiome and host metabolism

Visconti A, Le Roy CI, Rosa F, Rossi N, Martin TC, Mohney RP, Li W, de Rinaldis E, Bell JT, Venter JC, Nelson KE, Spector TD, Falchi M

PMID: 31582752


The human gut is inhabited by a complex and metabolically active microbial ecosystem. While many studies focused on the effect of individual microbial taxa on human health, their overall metabolic potential has been under-explored. Using whole-metagenome shotgun sequencing data in 1,004 twins, we first observed that unrelated subjects share, on average, almost double the number of metabolic pathways (82%) than species (43%). Then, using 673 blood and 713 faecal metabolites, we found metabolic pathways to be associated with 34% of blood and 95% of faecal metabolites, with over 18,000 significant associations, while species showed less than 3,000 associations. Finally, we estimated that the microbiome was involved in a dialogue between 71% of faecal, and 15% of blood, metabolites. This study underlines the importance of studying the microbial metabolic potential rather than focusing purely on taxonomy to find therapeutic and diagnostic targets, and provides a unique resource describing the interplay between the microbiome and the systemic and faecal metabolic environments.