Dietary intervention impact on gut microbial gene richness

Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):585-8. doi: 10.1038/nature12480.


Complex gene-environment interactions are considered important in the development of obesity. The composition of the gut microbiota can determine the efficacy of energy harvest from food and changes in dietary composition have been associated with changes in the composition of gut microbial populations. The capacity to explore microbiota composition was markedly improved by the development of metagenomic approaches, which have already allowed production of the first human gut microbial gene catalogue and stratifying individuals by their gut genomic profile into different enterotypes, but the analyses were carried out mainly in non-intervention settings. To investigate the temporal relationships between food intake, gut microbiota and metabolic and inflammatory phenotypes, we conducted diet-induced weight-loss and weight-stabilization interventions in a study sample of 38 obese and 11 overweight individuals. Here we report that individuals with reduced microbial gene richness (40%) present more pronounced dys-metabolism and low-grade inflammation, as observed concomitantly in the accompanying paper. Dietary intervention improves low gene richness and clinical phenotypes, but seems to be less efficient for inflammation variables in individuals with lower gene richness. Low gene richness may therefore have predictive potential for the efficacy of intervention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basal Metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Male
  • Metagenome / drug effects
  • Metagenome / genetics*
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Overweight / diet therapy
  • Overweight / microbiology
  • Vegetables
  • Weight Loss / drug effects


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins