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

Interplay between the human gut microbiome and host metabolism.

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

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.

PMID: 31582752