Linkage analysis identifies novel genetic modifiers of microbiome traits in families with inflammatory bowel disease

Gut Microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2024415. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2021.2024415.


Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome is a hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and both, IBD risk and microbiome composition, have been found to be associated with genetic variation. Using data from families of IBD patients, we examined the association between genetic and microbiome similarity in a specific IBD context, followed by a genome-wide quantitative trait locus (QTL) linkage analysis of various microbiome traits using the same data. SNP genotypes as well as gut microbiome and phenotype data were obtained from the Kiel IBD family cohort (IBD-KC). The IBD-KC is an ongoing prospective study in Germany currently comprising 256 families with 455 IBD patients and 575 first- and second-degree relatives. Initially focusing upon known IBD risk loci, we noted a statistically significant (FDR<0.05) association between genetic similarity at SNP rs11741861 and overall microbiome dissimilarity among pairs of relatives discordant for IBD. In a genome-wide QTL analysis, 12 chromosomal regions were found to be linked to the abundance of one of seven microbial genera, namely Barnesiella (chromosome 4, region spanning 10.34 cM), Clostridium_XIVa (chr4, 3.86 cM; chr14, two regions spanning 7.05 and 13.02 cM respectively), Pseudoflavonifractor (chr7, 12.80 cM) Parasutterella (chr14, 8.26 cM), Ruminococcus (chr16, two overlapping regions spanning 8.01 and 16.87 cM, respectively), Roseburia (chr19, 7.99 cM), and Odoribacter (chr22, three regions spanning 0.89, 5.57 and 1.71 cM, respectively), as well as the Shannon index of α diversity (chr3, 1.47 cM). Our study thus shows that, in families of IBD patients, pairwise genetic similarity for at least one IBD risk locus is associated with overall microbiome dissimilarity among discordant pairs of relatives, and that hitherto unknown genetic modifiers of microbiome traits are located in at least 12 human genomic regions.

Keywords: Gut microbiome; family-based study design; inflammatory bowel diseases; linkage analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quantitative Trait Loci

Grant support

This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [EXC2167]; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [DE1614/4-1, GRK 1743, GRK 1743/2]; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft [EXC2167, GRK 1743, GRK 1743/2].