KANNAPOLIS, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES, Jan 19, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ – Katie Meyer, Sc.D., is one of many UNC Institute for Nutritional Research (NRI) Faculty members who lead their subject area through innovative research. Thanks to recent advances in technology, researchers like Meyer and her team can greatly expand our knowledge of the human microbiome, the microbial ecosystem that inhabits the inner and outer surfaces of our bodies. The trillions of microbes that live with us are not just passengers – they actively participate in many human functions, help us digest food, train our immune systems, and even influence our mood through the gut-brain axis.
The largest and richest human microbiome lives in the intestines and contributes significantly to our health. The factors that shape its composition, while extensively studied, remain unclear, and the greater than 80% difference in gut microbiome between individuals remains unexplained. In general, environmental factors such as diet and medication play an important role. However, a role for human genetic variants has also been suggested through the identification of heritable bacteria, that is, those that are more common in twins and family members.
A new study by the MiBioGen Consortium, an international collaboration with more than 20 laboratories around the world, including the Meyer Laboratory at UNC NRI, led by researchers from Groningen University Hospital, now sheds light on the host’s common genetic factors that influence have the composition of the human intestinal microbiome in> 18,000 people analyzed. They report that at least two human genes have a major impact on the design of our intestinal ecosystem: the lactase gene (LCT), which affects the abundance of lactose-digestible bifidobacteria, and the fucosyltransferase gene (FUT2), which determines the abundance of ruminococcus Torques. They also show that other human genes that affect microbiome composition are involved in important aspects of host metabolism, nutrition, and immunity. Their analyzes go as far as establishing relationships between multiple bacterial species and human diseases. For example, a higher frequency of Bifidobacterium decreased the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, an observation that was also reported in previous clinical studies.
“This study is an excellent example of a large international collaboration and the first to accurately assess the effects of host genetics on the gut microbiome,” explains Alexandra Zhernakova, one of the consortium’s lead researchers. “In future studies, more genetic effects will likely be identified with increasing sample size, but our multicenter approach has identified robust loci that are shared between populations. However, further studies in large and more homogeneous groups are essential in order to identify population-specific effects and gene-environment interactions. “
“Due to the large technical differences and the biological differences between the populations, it was a challenge to combine data sets from several cohorts. However, this diversity also brings strength – we have found, for example, that genetic variants in the lactase gene determine the frequency of bifidobacteria in adults, but not in children, and that this effect is stronger in European populations, ”says Alex Kurilshikov, who first author of the study. “The large sample size also enabled us to use genetic methods and show that some bacteria are causative agents for disease development.”
Meyer and colleagues from the National Institute for Aging Research (Lenore Launer) and the Health Science Center in Houston, University of Texas (Myriam Fornage) provided participant data on genetic and gut microbiota from the bi-racial population-based development of coronary artery risk in young people study for Adults (CARDIA).
The MiBioGen researchers have made their results available to other scientists and the scientific community for additional and future analysis. All results are uploaded to http://mibiogen.org, supported by the Genomics Coordination Center in the Department of Genetics, UMCG.
The publication in Nature Genetics is available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41588-020-00763-1
Via the UNC Nutrition Research Institute
The mission of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute is to advance the field of precision nutrition by studying how genetics, gut microbiota, and the environment affect an individual’s demands and responses to nutrients. Every person is metabolically unique. The NRI has set itself the goal of finding out how these differences affect a person’s health, so that the current uniform dietary guidelines can be replaced by tailored dietary recommendations and measures to improve a person’s health and quality of life.
For more information about the Nutrition Research Institute or to schedule an interview, contact Suzanne Dane, Director of Community Outreach and Development.
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January 19, 2021 at 1:19 PM GMT
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