Associations between habitual diet, metabolic disease, and the gut microbiota using latent Dirichlet allocation

Taylor A. Breuninger, Nina Wawro, Jakob Breuninger, Sandra Reitmeier, Thomas Clavel, Julia Six-Merker, Giulia Pestoni, Sabine Rohrmann, Wolfgang Rathmann, Annette Peters, Harald Grallert, Christa Meisinger, Dirk Haller, Jakob Linseisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: The gut microbiome impacts human health through various mechanisms and is involved in the development of a range of non-communicable diseases. Diet is a well-known factor influencing microbe-host interaction in health and disease. However, very few findings are based on large-scale analysis using population-based studies. Our aim was to investigate the cross-sectional relationship between habitual dietary intake and gut microbiota structure in the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) FF4 study. Results: Fecal microbiota was analyzed using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) was applied to samples from 1992 participants to identify 20 microbial subgroups within the study population. Each participant’s gut microbiota was subsequently described by a unique composition of these 20 subgroups. Associations between habitual dietary intake, assessed via repeated 24-h food lists and a Food Frequency Questionnaire, and the 20 subgroups, as well as between prevalence of metabolic diseases/risk factors and the subgroups, were assessed with multivariate-adjusted Dirichlet regression models. After adjustment for multiple testing, eight of 20 microbial subgroups were significantly associated with habitual diet, while nine of 20 microbial subgroups were associated with the prevalence of one or more metabolic diseases/risk factors. Subgroups 5 (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospiracea incertae sedis, Gemmiger, Roseburia) and 14 (Coprococcus, Bacteroides, Faecalibacterium, Ruminococcus) were particularly strongly associated with diet. For example, participants with a high probability for subgroup 5 were characterized by a higher Alternate Healthy Eating Index and Mediterranean Diet Score and a higher intake of food items such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, while participants with prevalent type 2 diabetes mellitus were characterized by a lower probability for subgroup 5. Conclusions: The associations between habitual diet, metabolic diseases, and microbial subgroups identified in this analysis not only expand upon current knowledge of diet-microbiota-disease relationships, but also indicate the possibility of certain microbial groups to be modulated by dietary intervention, with the potential of impacting human health. Additionally, LDA appears to be a powerful tool for interpreting latent structures of the human gut microbiota. However, the subgroups and associations observed in this analysis need to be replicated in further studies. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • 16S rRNA gene sequencing
  • Diabetes
  • Dietary intake
  • Hypertension
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Serum lipids
  • enable-Cluster


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