Human genetic determinants of the gut microbiome and their associations with health and disease: a phenome-wide association study

Hilde E. Groot, Yordi J. van de Vegte, Niek Verweij, Erik Lipsic, Jacco C. Karper, Pim van der Harst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Small-scale studies have suggested a link between the human gut microbiome and highly prevalent diseases. However, the extent to which the human gut microbiome can be considered a determinant of disease and healthy aging remains unknown. We aimed to determine the spectrum of diseases that are linked to the human gut microbiome through the utilization of its genetic determinants as a proxy for its composition. 180 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) known to influence the human gut microbiome were used to assess the association with health and disease outcomes in 422,417 UK Biobank participants. Potential causal estimates were obtained using a Mendelian randomization (MR) approach. From the total sample analysed (mean age was 57 ± 8 years), 194,567 (46%) subjects were male. Median exposure was 66-person years (interquartile range 59–72). Eleven SNPs were significantly associated with 28 outcomes (Bonferroni corrected P value < 4.63·10−6) including food intake, hypertension, atopy, COPD, BMI, and lipids. Multiple SNP MR pointed to a possible causal link between Ruminococcus flavefaciens and hypertension, and Clostridium and platelet count. Microbiota and their metabolites might be of importance in the interplay between overlapping pathophysiological processes, although challenges remain in establishing causal relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14771
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18-Sept-2020

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