The gut microbiome as mediator between diet and its impact on immune function

Huiqing Shi


Dietary habits may affect inflammatory status in humans. Here we explore this interaction as well as the potential mediating role of the gut microbiome (GM), given that the GM is both involved in processing of dietary components and influences the immune system. A cross-sectional analysis of a sample of 482 healthy participants (207 males and 275 females) was performed. Dietary intake was assessed by a semiquantitative food questionnaire. Adipokines and soluble inflammatory mediators were assayed with multiple immunoassays and ELISA. Microbial DNA was extracted from frozen stool samples of 471 participants. Polychoric correlation analysis was used to establish dietary patterns, and joint multivariate associations between these dietary patterns and immune biomarkers were studied using regression analyses with adjustment for sex, age, BMI, smoking, education levels and physical exercise and other dietary patterns. Non-parametric entropy mediation was applied to investigate whether diet-immune relationships are mediated by abundance of microbial species. In this cohort, we identified three dietary patterns, characterized as “high-meat” (meat and sweetened drink), “prudent diet” (fish, fruit, legumes and vegetables) and “high alcohol” (higher alcohol consumption). Higher adherence to prudent diet was associated with a higher adiponectin level. The high alcohol pattern was associated with high concentrations of circulating concentrations of pro-inflammatory markers (CRP, IL-6, VEGF). Dialister invisus was found to mediate the relationship between a prudent dietary pattern and adiponectin, AAT, CRP, IL-6, and VEGF. In conclusion, a meat-based diet and a diet with high alcohol consumption were associated with high concentrations of biomarkers of chronic low-grade inflammation, and conversely, a prudent diet was associated with anti-inflammatory biomarkers. Diet-inflammation regulation may differ between sexes. Mediation analyses revealed that the association between prudent diet and immune function was partially mediated by the GM. The study adds to our understanding of the associations between diet, the immune system and the GM in a healthy population.

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The gut microbiome as mediator between diet and its impact on immune function


Shi, H., ter Horst, R., Nielen, S. et al.


Scientific Reports