Gut virome profiling identifies a widespread bacteriophage family associated with metabolic syndrome

Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 23;13(1):3594. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31390-5.


There is significant interest in altering the course of cardiometabolic disease development via gut microbiomes. Nevertheless, the highly abundant phage members of the complex gut ecosystem -which impact gut bacteria- remain understudied. Here, we show gut virome changes associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS), a highly prevalent clinical condition preceding cardiometabolic disease, in 196 participants by combined sequencing of bulk whole genome and virus like particle communities. MetS gut viromes exhibit decreased richness and diversity. They are enriched in phages infecting Streptococcaceae and Bacteroidaceae and depleted in those infecting Bifidobacteriaceae. Differential abundance analysis identifies eighteen viral clusters (VCs) as significantly associated with either MetS or healthy viromes. Among these are a MetS-associated Roseburia VC that is related to healthy control-associated Faecalibacterium and Oscillibacter VCs. Further analysis of these VCs revealed the Candidatus Heliusviridae, a highly widespread gut phage lineage found in 90+% of participants. The identification of the temperate Ca. Heliusviridae provides a starting point to studies of phage effects on gut bacteria and the role that this plays in MetS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteriophages* / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome*
  • Virome / genetics