Microbiome instability and host metabolic dysfunctions

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Microbiome, Epidemiology, Hepatology, Literature

Long-term instability of the intestinal microbiome is associated with metabolic liver disease, low microbiota diversity, diabetes mellitus and impaired exocrine pancreatic function

Gut microbiota profiles are as unique to each person as fingerprints. For this reason, when investigating the stability of microbiota composition over time, studies where samples are collected from the same subjects at several time points are ideal. This study focuses on intra-individual comparisons of paired long-term follow-up data collected in the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP). Fecal and plasma samples were collected at a 5-year interval to study the links between microbiota composition, plasma metabolome and clinical signs of metabolic dysfunctions.

Using data from over 1200 subjects, the researchers show that at the level of the overall population, the microbiome is quite stable, with a predominance of bacteria of the Bacteroide, Prevotella and Faecalibacterium taxa at both time points. At the individual level however, the picture becomes more complex, and a larger microbial instability appears. Subjects with metabolic conditions such as liver steatosis and diabetes mellitus tend to have higher levels of facultative pathogens such as Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia or Shigella.

This microbiome instability correlates positively with steatosis and diabetes mellitus, but negatively with species richness (diversity in microbiota species), household net income, being female and proper exocrine pancreatic function.

Plasma metabolomics, coupled with a detailed analysis of the genera linked to steatosis, reveals a pattern of lipids (phosphatidylcholines, lysophosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelins) associated with higher levels of Clostridium XIVa in subjects with steatosis. Metagenomic pathway analysis also highlights a potential impact on short chain fatty acid (SCFA) production pathways consistent with dysbiosis. These results could help in the applications such as human interventional trials aiming to reverse disease processes associated with microbiome instability.



If you are interested in more examples on how metabolic profiling can be applied to microbiome research, please visit our microbiome application page. Metabolomics, as microbiome profiling, can also be performed in feces samples. See our blog on feces metabolomics for more detail.


Frost F, Kacprowski T, Rühlemann M, Pietzner M, Bang C, Franke A, Nauck M, Völker U, Völzke H, Dörr M, Baumbach J, Sendler M, Schulz C, Mayerle J, Weiss FU, Homuth G, Lerch MM. Long-term instability of the intestinal microbiome is associated with metabolic liver disease, low microbiota diversity, diabetes mellitus and impaired exocrine pancreatic function. (2020) Gut | http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2020-322753