HCR.20.042 – Tripartite relation between gut bacteria, bacteriophages and human cardiometabolism

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 005 What role do micro-organisms play in ecosystems and how can we use them to improve health and the environment?

The extraordinary rise in obesity-related, chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease (hereafter together cardiometabolic diseases, CMD) presents an unmet challenge to public health and economies worldwide. Importantly, the risk and prevalence of CMD in ethnic minorities (in particular migrants from Surinam, Turkey and Morocco) is significantly higher than the risk of the Dutch host population. The multifactorial nature of CMD makes early detection, prediction, prevention and treatment notoriously complex. Although genetic variants affecting features known to increase CMD risk (e.g., blood pressure, circulating lipids) have been identified, environmental factors, including the gut microbiome, are known to contribute substantially to CMD development.
The gut microbiome, comprising bacteria, fungi and viruses, has been extensively associated with host health and disease development. Previous studies, including our own, have shown that targeting the gut microbiome (e.g., by fecal microbiota transplantation) holds merit to serve as preventive measure for development of CMD or to lower the burden on those already affected.
At present there is an important knowledge gap in factors that determine gut microbiota composition and function, including bacteriophages – viruses that target these bacteria -, and their interaction with human metabolism. As a consequence, there is a large unmet need for strategies to favorably and durably alter gut microbiota composition and function to benefit host health.
We aim to create a consortium revolving around the tripartite relation between human metabolism, gut bacteria and the highly abundant (1012 in the gut -equal to the number of bacteria) viral members of the microbial community. These phages are known to have significant impact on microbial communities by either eliminating bacterial hosts or by altering bacterial function, but their role in the gut microbiome and CMD is yet to be unraveled.


bacteriophages, cardiometabolic disease, gut microbiome


Organisation Amsterdam UMC, location AMC (VUMC)
Name Dr. H. (Hilde) Herrema
E-mail h.j.herrema@amsterdamumc.nl
Website https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hilde_Herrema