Causal associations between gut microbiota and sepsis: A two-sample Mendelian randomization study

Eur J Clin Invest. 2023 Nov;53(11):e14064. doi: 10.1111/eci.14064. Epub 2023 Jul 18.


Background: Targeting the gut microbiota may become a new therapeutic to prevent and treat sepsis. Nonetheless, the causal relationship between specific intestinal flora and sepsis is still unclear.

Methods: A two-sample Mendelian randomization study was performed using the summary statistics of gut microbiota from the largest available genome-wide association study (n = 18,340). The summary statistics of sepsis were obtained from the UK Biobank (n = 486,484). Inverse-variance weighted, weighted median and MR-Egger were used to examine the causal association between gut microbiota and sepsis. Cochrane's Q test, MR-Egger intercept test, MR-PRESSO Global test and Rucker's Q'-test were used for sensitivity analyses. The leave-one method was used for testing the stability of MR results, and Bonferroni-corrected was used to test the strength of the causal relationship between exposure and outcome.

Results: Nine intestinal microflora were found causally associated with sepsis, and 11 intestinal microflora were causally associated with 28-day death in sepsis. Among them, Order Victivallales had a strong causality with lower risk of sepsis (OR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.78-0.94, p = .00165) and lower 28-day mortality of sepsis (OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.53-0.87, p = .00179) after Bonferroni-corrected test. No pleiotropy was detected.

Conclusions: Through the two-sample MR analysis, we identified the specific intestinal flora that had a causal relationship with the risk and prognosis of sepsis at the level of gene prediction, which may provide helpful biomarkers for early disease diagnosis and potential therapeutic targets for sepsis.

Keywords: Mendelian randomization; gut microbiota; sepsis.