A metagenome-wide association study of gut microbiome and visceral fat accumulation.

Nie X, Chen J, Ma X, Ni Y, Shen Y, Yu H, Panagiotou G**, Bao Y** (corresponding authors**) (2020) A metagenome-wide association study of gut microbiome and visceral fat accumulation. Comput Struct Biotechnol J 18, 2596-2609.

*equal contribution



Visceral fat is an independent risk factor for metabolic and cardiovascular disease. The study aimed to investigate the associations between gut microbiome and visceral fat.


We recruited 32 obese adults and 30 healthy controls at baseline. Among the obese subjects, 14 subjects underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) and were followed 6 months after surgery. Abdominal visceral fat area (VFA) and subcutaneous fat area (SFA) were measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Waist, hipline, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI) were included as simple obese parameters. Gut microbiome was analyzed by metagenomic sequencing.


Among the obese parameters, VFA had the largest number of correlations with the species that were differentially enriched between obese and healthy subjects, following by waist, WHR, BMI, hipline, and SFA. Within the species negatively correlated with VFA, Eubacterium eligens had the strongest correlation, following by Clostridium citroniae, C. symbiosum, Bacteroides uniformis, E. ventriosum, Ruminococcaceae bacterium D16, C. hathewayi, etc. C. hathewayi and C. citroniae were increased after LSG. Functional analyses showed that among all the obese parameters, VFA had strongest correlation coefficients with the obesity-related microbial pathways. Microbial pathways involved in carbohydrate fermentation and biosynthesis of L-glutamate and L-glutamine might contribute to visceral fat accumulation.


Visceral fat was more closely correlated with gut microbiome compared with subcutaneous fat, suggesting an intrinsic connection between gut microbiome and metabolic cardiovascular diseases. Specific microbial species and pathways which were closely associated with visceral fat accumulation might contribute to new targeted therapies for metabolic disorders.


Jiarui Chen
Yueqiong (Bernard) Ni
Gianni Panagiotou


doi: 10.1016/j.csbj.2020.09.026

PMID: 33033580