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Interplay Between the Microbiome and Host Health and Disease

Microbiome and Host Health

The microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms that live on and within the human body, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Research has shown that the microbiome’s composition and diversity can significantly impact metabolic health. Studies have found that people with metabolic diseases tend to have less diverse microbiomes than healthy individuals, with an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that may be associated with inflammation.1 Metabolites produced by the gut microbiota can have systemic effects on the host and have been implicated in numerous human health conditions, including obesity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, autism spectrum disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. Changes in the microbiome can also affect host metabolism. For example, some metabolites are produced by the host only in the presence of certain microbial species. These metabolites can contribute to the development of metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and chronic fatigue syndrome. The relationship between the microbiome and metabolic disease is complex and not fully understood. Still, metabolomics can be used to study this relationship and provide valuable insights into the role of the microbiome in health and disease.

Metabolomics Investigates Host-Microbiota Interactions

The microorganisms in the gut produce a wide variety of metabolites that are absorbed into the bloodstream and affect various physiological processes, such as immune function, energy metabolism, and brain function. Metabolomics can characterize the metabolites present in the gut and provide insights into the function of the microbiome and how it affects the host’s metabolism. In addition to providing fundamental insights into disease pathology, metabolomics can identify biomarkers of disease and monitor the effects of interventions aimed at modulating the microbiome. Overall, metabolomics has the potential to advance our understanding of human health and disease and lead to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Metabolon Reveals Connections Between the Microbiome and Human Health and Disease

The Metabolon Global Discovery Panel has helped many scientists understand how the gut microbiome affects human health and disease. Recently, a research group elucidated a relationship between the gut microbiome and plasma metabolites to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).2 Multi-omic analysis of shotgun sequencing and global metabolomics revealed possible functional mechanisms responsible for the onset and duration of ME/CFS. They found that depletion of butyrate-synthesizing microbes in the gut microbiome of ME/CFS patients led to low levels of plasma butyrate. These findings suggest that changes in the gut microbiome’s ability to metabolize or synthesize butyrate are reflected in the host’s plasma butyrate levels.

In another study, a research group utilized the panel to uncover that gut microbiota modulates host metabolism and seizure susceptibility in mice.3 The ketogenic diet (KD) has been shown for years as an effective treatment for refractory epilepsy. However, the underlying mechanism of how this diet reduces neurological disease symptoms had not been explained. In this study, scientists demonstrated that the KD alters the gut microbiota of mice. Global metabolomics of colonic contents showed that changes in the gut microbiome led to perturbations in the host’s metabolism, including reductions in amino acid γ-glutamylation. These changes were necessary and sufficient for conferring seizure protection.

T2D, a disease that affects more than 400 million people worldwide,4 is a major public health burden. A group used the panel to evaluate whether metabolites produced by the microbiome contribute to the onset of T2D.5 This study identified a panel of circulating metabolites reflective of the gut microbiome, which was associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The Global Discovery Panel allows scientists to identify a wide range of metabolites and metabolic pathways, providing a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic status of an individual. The panel’s unrivaled coverage of up to 5,400 metabolites can offer the most comprehensive solution to characterize plasma, feces, and other biofluids.  

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  1. Durack J, Lynch SV. The gut microbiome: Relationships with disease and opportunities for therapy. J Exp Med. Jan 07 2019;216(1):20-40. doi:10.1084/jem.20180448
  2. Xiong R, Gunter C, Fleming E, et al. Multi-‘omics of gut microbiome-host interactions in short- and long-term myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Cell Host Microbe. Feb 08 2023;31(2):273-287.e5. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2023.01.001
  3. Olson CA, Vuong HE, Yano JM, Liang QY, Nusbaum DJ, Hsiao EY. The Gut Microbiota Mediates the Anti-Seizure Effects of the Ketogenic Diet [published correction appears in Cell. 2018 Jul 12;174(2):497]. Cell. 2018;173(7):1728-1741.e13. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.04.027
  4. Khan MAB, Hashim MJ, King JK, Govender RD, Mustafa H, Al Kaabi J. Epidemiology of Type 2 Diabetes – Global Burden of Disease and Forecasted Trends. J Epidemiol Glob Health. 03 2020;10(1):107-111. doi:10.2991/jegh.k.191028.001
  5. Menni C, Zhu J, Le Roy CI, et al. Serum metabolites reflecting gut microbiome alpha diversity predict type 2 diabetes. Gut Microbes. Nov 01 2020;11(6):1632-1642. doi:10.1080/19490976.2020.1778261
Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson serves as a Director in the Core R&D group at Metabolon. In his 10+ years with Metabolon, he has helped lead the development of the Global Discovery Panel, Complex Lipids Targeted Panel, Sphingolipids Targeted Panel, and Metal Analysis Targeted Panel. With over 20 years of analytical chemistry experience, he and his team remain focused on the usage of cutting-edge technology to deliver meaningful insights.


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