Dietary fiber intake, the gut microbiome, and chronic systemic inflammation in a cohort of adult men

Genome Med. 2021 Jun 17;13(1):102. doi: 10.1186/s13073-021-00921-y.

Abstract

Background: A higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with a decreased risk of chronic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease. This may function in part due to abrogation of chronic systemic inflammation induced by factors such as dysbiotic gut communities. Data regarding the detailed influences of long-term and recent intake of differing dietary fiber sources on the human gut microbiome are lacking.

Methods: In a cohort of 307 generally healthy men, we examined gut microbiomes, profiled by shotgun metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing, and long-term and recent dietary fiber intake in relation to plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an established biomarker for chronic inflammation. Data were analyzed using multivariate linear mixed models.

Results: We found that inflammation-associated gut microbial configurations corresponded with higher CRP levels. A greater intake of dietary fiber was associated with shifts in gut microbiome composition, particularly Clostridiales, and their potential for carbohydrate utilization via polysaccharide degradation. This was particularly true for fruit fiber sources (i.e., pectin). Most striking, fiber intake was associated with significantly greater CRP reduction in individuals without substantial Prevotella copri carriage in the gut, whereas those with P. copri carriage maintained stable CRP levels regardless of fiber intake.

Conclusions: Our findings offer human evidence supporting a fiber-gut microbiota interaction, as well as a potential specific mechanism by which gut-mediated systemic inflammation may be mitigated.

Keywords: Chronic inflammation; Cohort; Diet-microbiota interaction; Fiber; Gut microbiome; Metagenomics; Pectin; Prevotella copri.