Existing studies characterizing gut microbiome variation in the United States suffer from population ascertainment biases, with individuals of American Indian ancestry being among the most underrepresented. Here, we describe the first gut microbiome diversity study of an American Indian community. We partnered with the Cheyenne and Arapaho (C&A), federally recognized American Indian tribes in Oklahoma, and compared gut microbiome diversity and metabolic function of C&A participants to individuals of non-native ancestry in Oklahoma (NNIs). While the C&A and NNI participants share microbiome features common to industrialized populations, the C&A participants had taxonomic profiles characterized by a reduced abundance of the anti-inflammatory bacterial genus Faecalibacterium, along with a fecal metabolite profile similar to dysbiotic states described for metabolic disorders. American Indians are known to be at elevated risk for metabolic disorders. While many aspects of this health disparity remain poorly understood, our results support the need to further study the microbiome as a contributing factor. As the field of microbiome research transitions to therapeutic interventions, it raises concerns that the continued exclusion and lack of participation of American Indian communities in these studies will further exacerbate health disparities. To increase momentum in fostering these much needed partnerships, it is essential that the scientific community actively engage in and recruit these vulnerable populations in basic research through a strategy that promotes mutual trust and understanding, as outlined in this study.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.