May, 2021 - By SMI
Researchers discovered a new microbial signature that was linked to an increased risk of mortality.
A rigorous proof-of-concept study showed that analyzing a person's gut bacteria composition could predict their likelihood of dying more than a decade in advance. The new research, which was published in Nature Communications, looked at data from FINRISK, a broad ongoing population-health survey in Finland. Fecal samples from 7,211 adults with an average age of 50 were examined. The samples were collected in 2002, and the health records of the cohort were followed for the next 15 years. The study used a machine learning algorithm to identify microbial species in feces that were linked to death over a long period of time. Microbes in the Enterobacteriaceae family have been linked to an increased risk of death from gastrointestinal and respiratory causes.
Many harmful bacterial strains were found among the enterobacteria that predicted mortality, and our lifestyle choices can affect their amount in the gut. We may boost mortality prediction by observing the composition of the gut microbiota, even when other related risk factors including smoking and obesity are taken into account. For the first time, the data used in this analysis allows researchers to look at the long-term health effects of the human gut microbiota on a population level.
The researchers are quick to point out that a microbiome test that can predict death is still a long way off. Before the microbiome can be used to predict, prevent, or treat any type of human disease, they say, “Extensive research is still required.” Nonetheless, this is the first study to relate microbiome composition to long-term mortality outcomes, and the results provide researchers with additional information to guide future research into the relationship between our general health and the trillions of microbes that live inside the human body.
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