The Gut Microbiome, Its Metabolome, and Their Relationship to Health and Disease

Gary D Wu
Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop Series 2016, 84: 103-10
Despite its importance in maintaining the health of the host, growing evidence suggests that gut microbiota may also be an important factor in the pathogenesis of various diseases. The composition of the microbiota can be influenced by many factors, including age, genetics, host environment, and diet. There are epidemiologic data associating diet with the development of inflammatory bowel disease as well as evidence that diet can influence both the form and the function of the microbiome. Based on this evidence, studies are now underway to examine the effect of defined formula diets, an effective therapeutic modality in Crohn's disease, on both the gut microbiome and its metabolome as a therapeutic probe. Diet has an impact upon both the composition and the function of the microbiota in part through small-molecule production that may influence the development of both immune-mediated and metabolic diseases. By comparing dietary intake, the gut microbiota, and the plasma metabolome in omnivores versus vegans, we provide evidence that the production of certain bacterial metabolites is constrained by the composition of the gut microbiota. In total, these results demonstrate the potential promise of dietary manipulation of the gut microbiota and its metabolome as a modality to both maintain health and treat disease.

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