Gut microbiota, inflammation, and molecular signatures of host response to infection

J Genet Genomics. 2021 Sep 20;48(9):792-802. doi: 10.1016/j.jgg.2021.04.002. Epub 2021 May 3.


Gut microbial dysbiosis has been linked to many noncommunicable diseases. However, little is known about specific gut microbiota composition and its correlated metabolites associated with molecular signatures underlying host response to infection. Here, we describe the construction of a proteomic risk score based on 20 blood proteomic biomarkers, which have recently been identified as molecular signatures predicting the progression of the COVID-19. We demonstrate that in our cohort of 990 healthy individuals without infection, this proteomic risk score is positively associated with proinflammatory cytokines mainly among older, but not younger, individuals. We further discover that a core set of gut microbiota can accurately predict the above proteomic biomarkers among 301 individuals using a machine learning model and that these gut microbiota features are highly correlated with proinflammatory cytokines in another independent set of 366 individuals. Fecal metabolomics analysis suggests potential amino acid-related pathways linking gut microbiota to host metabolism and inflammation. Overall, our multi-omics analyses suggest that gut microbiota composition and function are closely related to inflammation and molecular signatures of host response to infection among healthy individuals. These results may provide novel insights into the cross-talk between gut microbiota and host immune system.

Keywords: COVID-19; Gut microbiota; Host infection response; Proinflammatory cytokines; Proteomic biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods