The study of human gut microbiota (previously termed as gut flora) has been the subject of multi-disciplinary research for physicians, including gastroenterologists and other health specialists, nutritionists, food scientists, immunologists, microbiologists, geneticists, bioinformaticians and engineers. Recent advances in genomic technology have been applied to provide a new understanding of the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease. In particular, it has been shown that the gut microbiome (composition/diversity/functional profiling) can reflect and influence host physiology, health status, diet, and progression of several diseases.
It is believed that a healthy gut balance is maintained between the host intestinal ecosystem and its resistant microbes. Disruption from diet and environmental stress alters the balance, which can lead to disease. The idea of co-evolution and the long-term symbiotic interaction between human and its gut microbiota has become an increasingly interesting concept fueled by the extension of the host metabolic capacity by a unique functional gut microbial phenotype.
Diet influences microbial composition, therefore, long-term dietary interventions may allow microbial modulation to improve health (See here for our recent review on nutritional aspect of gut microbiota). This provides a new paradigm for health management, food development, and a move toward targeted and personalized nutrition.
We use metabolic profiling approaches to support the growing interest in the field of gut microbiome research. Why and how it works:
- Production of specific metabolites by gut microbiota may have the power to affect distant organs, that is reflected as a change in biofluids (ie, urine and serum metabolic profile)
- Intestinal microbes metabolize and react to dietary ingredients that in turn can shift microbial composition and reflect to a change in fecal metabolic profile.
We believe that combining microbial phenotyping and metabolic profiling with clinical health measures will drive the understanding of the mammalian-microbial co-metabolic interaction.