Gut microbiome composition in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos is shaped by geographic relocation, environmental factors, and obesity

Genome Biol. 2019 Nov 1;20(1):219. doi: 10.1186/s13059-019-1831-z.


Background: Hispanics living in the USA may have unrecognized potential birthplace and lifestyle influences on the gut microbiome. We report a cross-sectional analysis of 1674 participants from four centers of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), aged 18 to 74 years old at recruitment.

Results: Amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene V4 and fungal ITS1 fragments from self-collected stool samples indicate that the host microbiome is determined by sociodemographic and migration-related variables. Those who relocate from Latin America to the USA at an early age have reductions in Prevotella to Bacteroides ratios that persist across the life course. Shannon index of alpha diversity in fungi and bacteria is low in those who relocate to the USA in early life. In contrast, those who relocate to the USA during adulthood, over 45 years old, have high bacterial and fungal diversity and high Prevotella to Bacteroides ratios, compared to USA-born and childhood arrivals. Low bacterial diversity is associated in turn with obesity. Contrasting with prior studies, our study of the Latino population shows increasing Prevotella to Bacteroides ratio with greater obesity. Taxa within Acidaminococcus, Megasphaera, Ruminococcaceae, Coriobacteriaceae, Clostridiales, Christensenellaceae, YS2 (Cyanobacteria), and Victivallaceae are significantly associated with both obesity and earlier exposure to the USA, while Oscillospira and Anaerotruncus show paradoxical associations with both obesity and late-life introduction to the USA.

Conclusions: Our analysis of the gut microbiome of Latinos demonstrates unique features that might be responsible for health disparities affecting Hispanics living in the USA.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Hispanic population; Microbiome; Mycobiome; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / microbiology