Other Metagenomic assessment of gut microbial communities and risk of severe COVID-19 (July 2023, n=127)


New member
Nov 9, 2023


Background: The gut microbiome is a critical modulator of host immunity and is linked to the immune response to respiratory viral infections. However, few studies have gone beyond describing broad compositional alterations in severe COVID-19, defined as acute respiratory or other organ failure.

Methods: We profiled 127 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 (n = 79 with severe COVID-19 and 48 with moderate) who collectively provided 241 stool samples from April 2020 to May 2021 to identify links between COVID-19 severity and gut microbial taxa, their biochemical pathways, and stool metabolites.

Results: Forty-eight species were associated with severe disease after accounting for antibiotic use, age, sex, and various comorbidities. These included significant in-hospital depletions of Fusicatenibacter saccharivorans and Roseburia hominis, each previously linked to post-acute COVID syndrome or "long COVID," suggesting these microbes may serve as early biomarkers for the eventual development of long COVID. A random forest classifier achieved excellent performance when tasked with classifying whether stool was obtained from patients with severe vs. moderate COVID-19, a finding that was externally validated in an independent cohort. Dedicated network analyses demonstrated fragile microbial ecology in severe disease, characterized by fracturing of clusters and reduced negative selection. We also observed shifts in predicted stool metabolite pools, implicating perturbed bile acid metabolism in severe disease.

Conclusions: Here, we show that the gut microbiome differentiates individuals with a more severe disease course after infection with COVID-19 and offer several tractable and biologically plausible mechanisms through which gut microbial communities may influence COVID-19 disease course. Further studies are needed to expand upon these observations to better leverage the gut microbiome as a potential biomarker for disease severity and as a target for therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Machine learning; Microbiome; SARS-CoV-2.

Format correct?
  1. Yes