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PeerJ. 2013 Feb 26;1:e32. doi: 10.7717/peerj.32. Print 2013.

Associations between the human intestinal microbiota, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and serum lipids indicated by integrated analysis of high-throughput profiling data.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Valio R&D, Helsinki, Finland.
Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo, Finland.
Contributed equally


Accumulating evidence indicates that the intestinal microbiota regulates our physiology and metabolism. Bacteria marketed as probiotics confer health benefits that may arise from their ability to affect the microbiota. Here high-throughput screening of the intestinal microbiota was carried out and integrated with serum lipidomic profiling data to study the impact of probiotic intervention on the intestinal ecosystem, and to explore the associations between the intestinal bacteria and serum lipids. We performed a comprehensive intestinal microbiota analysis using a phylogenetic microarray before and after Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG intervention. While a specific increase in the L. rhamnosus-related bacteria was observed during the intervention, no other changes in the composition or stability of the microbiota were detected. After the intervention, lactobacilli returned to their initial levels. As previously reported, also the serum lipid profiles remained unaltered during the intervention. Based on a high-resolution microbiota analysis, intake of L. rhamnosus GG did not modify the composition of the intestinal ecosystem in healthy adults, indicating that probiotics confer their health effects by other mechanisms. The most prevailing association between the gut microbiota and lipid profiles was a strong positive correlation between uncultured phylotypes of Ruminococcus gnavus-group and polyunsaturated serum triglycerides of dietary origin. Moreover, a positive correlation was detected between serum cholesterol and Collinsella (Coriobacteriaceae). These associations identified with the spectrometric lipidome profiling were corroborated by enzymatically determined cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Actinomycetaceae correlated negatively with triglycerides of highly unsaturated fatty acids while a set of Proteobacteria showed negative correlation with ether phosphatidylcholines. Our results suggest that several members of the Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria may be involved in the metabolism of dietary and endogenous lipids, and provide a scientific rationale for further human studies to explore the role of intestinal microbes in host lipid metabolism.


Gastrointestinal tract; High-throughput profiling; Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG; Lipidomics; Microbiota; Physiology; Probiotics

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