Metabolomic applications to decipher gut microbial metabolic influence in health and disease

Front Physiol. 2012 Apr 26;3:113. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00113. eCollection 2012.


Dietary preferences and nutrients composition have been shown to influence human and gut microbial metabolism, which ultimately has specific effects on health and diseases' risk. Increasingly, results from molecular biology and microbiology demonstrate the key role of the gut microbiota metabolic interface to the overall mammalian host's health status. There is therefore raising interest in nutrition research to characterize the molecular foundations of the gut microbial-mammalian cross talk at both physiological and biochemical pathway levels. Tackling these challenges can be achieved through systems biology approaches, such as metabolomics, to underpin the highly complex metabolic exchanges between diverse biological compartments, including organs, systemic biofluids, and microbial symbionts. By the development of specific biomarkers for prediction of health and disease, metabolomics is increasingly used in clinical applications as regard to disease etiology, diagnostic stratification, and potentially mechanism of action of therapeutical and nutraceutical solutions. Surprisingly, an increasing number of metabolomics investigations in pre-clinical and clinical studies based on proton nuclear magnetic resonance ((1)H NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry provided compelling evidence that system wide and organ-specific biochemical processes are under the influence of gut microbial metabolism. This review aims at describing recent applications of metabolomics in clinical fields where main objective is to discern the biochemical mechanisms under the influence of the gut microbiota, with insight into gastrointestinal health and diseases diagnostics and improvement of homeostasis metabolic regulation.

Keywords: gastrointestinal; gut microbiota; metabotypes; nutritional metabolomics; personalized nutrition.