Background: Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are major public health concerns worldwide, and their prevalence has only increased in recent years. Mexican Americans are disproportionately afflicted by obesity and T2D, and rates are even higher in the United States-Mexico border region. To determine the factors associated with the increased risk of T2D, obesity, and other diseases in this population, the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort was established in 2004.
Results: In this study, we characterized the 16S gut community of a subset of 63 subjects from this unique cohort. We found that these communities, when compared to Human Microbiome Project subjects, exhibit community shifts often observed in obese and T2D individuals in published studies. We also examined microbial network relationships between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort (CCHC) and three additional datasets. We identified a group of seven genera that form a tightly interconnected network present in all four tested datasets, dominated by butyrate producers, which are often increased in obese individuals while being depleted in T2D patients.
Conclusions: Through a combination of increased disease prevalence and relatively high gut microbial homogeneity in the subset of CCHC members we examined, we believe that the CCHC may represent an ideal community to dissect mechanisms underlying the role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease. The lack of CCHC subject gut community segregation based on all tested metadata suggests that the community structure we observe in the CCHC likely occurs early in life, and endures. This persistent 'disease'-related gut microbial community in CCHC subjects may enhance existing genetic or lifestyle predispositions to the prevalent diseases of the CCHC, leading to increased attack rates of obesity, T2D, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and others.