East Asians experience worse metabolic health outcomes compared to other ethnic groups at lower body mass indices; however, the potential role of the gut microbiota in contributing to these health disparities remains unknown. We conducted a multi-omic study of 46 lean and obese East Asian and White participants living in the San Francisco Bay Area, revealing marked differences between ethnic groups in bacterial richness and community structure. White individuals were enriched for the mucin-degrading Akkermansia muciniphila. East Asian subjects had increased levels of multiple bacterial phyla, fermentative pathways detected by metagenomics, and the short-chain fatty acid end-products acetate, propionate, and isobutyrate. Differences in the gut microbiota between the East Asian and White subjects could not be explained by dietary intake, were more pronounced in lean individuals, and were associated with current geographical location. Microbiome transplantations into germ-free mice demonstrated stable diet-and host genotype-independent differences between the gut microbiotas of East Asian and White individuals that differentially impact host body composition. Taken together, our findings add to the growing body of literature describing variation between ethnicities and provide a starting point for defining the mechanisms through which the microbiome may shape disparate health outcomes in East Asians.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Neuroscience
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology