Research highlight

Microbiology: Statins linked with altered gut microbiota in obesity

Nature

May 7, 2020

According to a cross-sectional analysis in Nature this week, a potentially dysfunctional gut microbiota configuration known as Bact2 is more common in people with obesity. The observational study also finds that the prevalence of Bact2 is lower in individuals with obesity who are taking statin drugs. Further studies, including prospective clinical trials, are now needed to determine the impact of statins on the gut microbiota in obesity.

Jeroen Raes and colleagues studied a cross-sectional cohort of 888 people from France, Germany and Denmark, and found that Bact2 is associated with body mass index (BMI), increasing in prevalence from 3.9% in lean individuals to 17.7% in people with obesity. Individuals with the Bact2 composition tended to have higher levels of inflammation than would be expected based on their BMI alone, supporting the notion that Bact2 is a dysfunctional microbiome configuration. The authors also show that Bact2 is negatively correlated with use of statins: prevalence of Bact2 in individuals with obesity undergoing statin therapy was reduced to 5.9%. The authors replicated these findings using two validation cohorts of 282 and 2,345 people, respectively.

They caution, however, that additional research is needed to further evaluate these associations. In particular, prospective clinical trials are required to assess whether the findings can be replicated in a randomized population before considering the use of statins as potential microbiota-modulating therapeutics.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2269-x

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