Connections between the human gut microbiome and gestational diabetes mellitus

Gigascience. 2017 Aug 1;6(8):1-12. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/gix058.


The human gut microbiome can modulate metabolic health and affect insulin resistance, and it may play an important role in the etiology of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Here, we compared the gut microbial composition of 43 GDM patients and 81 healthy pregnant women via whole-metagenome shotgun sequencing of their fecal samples, collected at 21-29 weeks, to explore associations between GDM and the composition of microbial taxonomic units and functional genes. A metagenome-wide association study identified 154 837 genes, which clustered into 129 metagenome linkage groups (MLGs) for species description, with significant relative abundance differences between the 2 cohorts. Parabacteroides distasonis, Klebsiella variicola, etc., were enriched in GDM patients, whereas Methanobrevibacter smithii, Alistipes spp., Bifidobacterium spp., and Eubacterium spp. were enriched in controls. The ratios of the gross abundances of GDM-enriched MLGs to control-enriched MLGs were positively correlated with blood glucose levels. A random forest model shows that fecal MLGs have excellent discriminatory power to predict GDM status. Our study discovered novel relationships between the gut microbiome and GDM status and suggests that changes in microbial composition may potentially be used to identify individuals at risk for GDM.

Keywords: gestational diabetes mellitus; gut microbiome; metagenome-wide association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics* / methods
  • Models, Biological
  • Pregnancy
  • ROC Curve


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose