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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Health implications of the influence of diet on the gut microbiome

Abstract (as presented by the authors of the scientific work):

"Recent studies have suggested that the intestinal microbiome plays an important role in modulating risk of several chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. At the same time, it is now understood that diet plays a significant role in shaping the microbiome, with experiments showing that dietary alterations can induce large, temporary microbial shifts within 24 h. Given this association, there may be significant therapeutic utility in altering microbial composition through diet. This review systematically evaluates current data regarding the effects of several common dietary components on intestinal microbiota. We show that consumption of particular types of food produces predictable shifts in existing host bacterial genera. Furthermore, the identity of these bacteria affects host immune and metabolic parameters, with broad implications for human health. Familiarity with these associations will be of tremendous use to the practitioner as well as the patient."

Covered topics (the letter size corresponds to the frequency of mentioning in the text):

Conclusion and future directions (as presented by the authors of the scientific work):

"In conclusion, review of the literature suggests that diet can modify the intestinal microbiome, which in turn has a profound impact on overall health. This impact can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the relative identity and abundance of constituent bacterial populations. For example, it has been shown that a high-fat diet adversely reduces A. muciniphila and Lactobacillus, which are both associated with healthy metabolic states [53]. This observation provides a good example of how dietary intervention might potentially be used to manage complex diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, advances in microbiome research have suggested novel therapeutic possibilities for diseases that have traditionally been difficult to treat. For example, the fecal microbiota transplant has been used successfully to manage several different conditions, including ulcerative colitis, Clostridium difficile-associated colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even obesity [156–160]. It is possible that dermatologic conditions, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, may also be observed to benefit from re-engineering the gut microbiota. Recent advances in microbiome research offer exciting new tools to possibly enhance human health. Most of the studies reviewed in this manuscript profiled the microbiome using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, which utilizes the hypervariable regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene to identify bacteria present in biological samples. 16S rRNA sequencing is the most commonly used method by medical researchers to study microbial composition, due to its low cost and relatively easy workflow for sample preparation and bioinformatic analyses. However, 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing primarily provides information about microbial identity and not function. In order to investigate the microbiome’s functions, many researchers have turned to a shotgun metagenomic approach in which the whole bacterial genome is sequenced. Despite a higher cost and more complicated bioinformatics requirement, shotgun metagenomics provides information about both microbial identity and gene composition. Knowing which genes are encoded by the bacteria present in a sample allows researchers to better understand their roles in human health. With reducing costs of next generation sequencing, improved sample preparation protocols, and more bioinformatic tools available for metagenomic analysis, this technique will be a powerful tool to study microbiome functionality. Performing meta-analyses to correlate the microbiome with host genomes, transcriptomes, and immunophenotypes represents another exciting avenue for investigating human and bacterial interactions.

Precision medicine is another attractive, novel therapeutic approach for many diseases with strong genetic associations. It is important to note that the host genotype also plays a role in shaping the microbiome, and that this host-microbe interaction is crucial for maintaining human health [161]. Therefore, a better understanding of the interplay between genes, phenotypes, and the microbiome will provide important insights into the utility of precision medicine.

The observation that diet can modulate host-microbe interactions heralds a promising future therapeutic approach. Already, the gut microbiome has been found to influence the response to cancer immunotherapy [162, 163]. Indeed, personalized nutrition is an emerging concept that utilizes a machine-learning algorithm to predict metabolic responses to meals [164, 165]. This tool has broad implications for individualized patient care through dietary modification. While this and other technology is in the process of being refined and validated, further research using large, long-term clinical trials to evaluate a greater variety of food components would be helpful in making specific dietary recommendations to patients."

Full-text access of the referenced scientific work:

Singh RK, Chang HW, Yan D, Lee KM, Ucmak D, Wong K, Abrouk M, Farahnik B,
Nakamura M, Zhu TH, Bhutani T, Liao W. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome
and implications for human health. J Transl Med. 2017 Apr 8;15(1):73. doi:
10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y. Review. PubMed PMID: 28388917; PubMed Central PMCID:


Prof. Atanas G. Atanasov (Dr. habil., PhD)

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