Individual and cohort-specific gut microbiota patterns associated with tissue-specific insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese males

Gerben D. A. Hermes*, Dorien Reijnders, Ruud S. Kootte, Gijs H. Goossens, Hauke Smidt, Max Nieuwdorp, Ellen E. Blaak, Erwin G. Zoetendal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A growing body of evidence suggests that the human gut microbiota plays a role in the development of obesity and related metabolic diseases. However, there is little consensus between studies, which could be due to biological as well as technical variation. In addition, little human data are available to investigate whether tissue-specific insulin sensitivity is related to specific microbial patterns. We examined this relation in two independent cohorts of overweight and obese pre-diabetic men, using phylogenetic microarray data and hepatic, peripheral and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity that were determined by a two-step hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp with [6,6-H-2(2)]-glucose tracer infusion. Despite a prominent subject-specific microbiota, we found significant associations of microbial taxa with tissue-specific insulin sensitivity using regression analysis. Using random forests we found moderate associations with other measures of glucose homeostasis in only one of the cohorts (fasting glucose concentrations AUC=0.66 and HbA(1c) AUC=0.65). However, all findings were cohort-specific due to pronounced variation in microbiota between cohorts, suggesting the existence of alternative states for dysbiosis in metabolic syndrome patients. Our findings suggest individual or group related dynamics, instead of universal microbiota signals, related to the host when the overweight or obese state has already developed and argue that care should be taken with extrapolating significant correlations from single cohorts, into generalized biological relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7523
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020


  • DIET
  • FAT

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