Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Frontiers in Microbiology




Frontiers Media S. A.


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research University of Sharjah


Al Bataineh, M. T., Henschel, A., Mousa, M., Daou, M., Waasia, F., Kannout, H., . . . Alsafar, H. S. (2021). Gut microbiota interplay with COVID-19 reveals links to host lipid metabolism among Middle Eastern populations. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, article 761067.


The interplay between the compositional changes in the gastrointestinal microbiome, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) susceptibility and severity, and host functions is complex and yet to be fully understood. This study performed 16S rRNA gene-based microbial profiling of 143 subjects. We observed structural and compositional alterations in the gut microbiota of the SARS-CoV-2-infected group in comparison to non-infected controls. The gut microbiota composition of the SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals showed an increase in anti-inflammatory bacteria such as Faecalibacterium (p-value = 1.72 × 10–6) and Bacteroides (p-value = 5.67 × 10–8). We also revealed a higher relative abundance of the highly beneficial butyrate producers such as Anaerostipes (p-value = 1.75 × 10–230), Lachnospiraceae (p-value = 7.14 × 10–65), and Blautia (p-value = 9.22 × 10–18) in the SARS-CoV-2-infected group in comparison to the control group. Moreover, phylogenetic investigation of communities by reconstructing unobserved state (PICRUSt) functional prediction analysis of the 16S rRNA gene abundance data showed substantial differences in the enrichment of metabolic pathways such as lipid, amino acid, carbohydrate, and xenobiotic metabolism, in comparison between both groups. We discovered an enrichment of linoleic acid, ether lipid, glycerolipid, and glycerophospholipid metabolism in the SARS-CoV-2-infected group, suggesting a link to SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication in host cells. We estimate the major contributing genera to the four pathways to be Parabacteroides, Streptococcus, Dorea, and Blautia, respectively. The identified differences provide a new insight to enrich our understanding of SARS-CoV-2-related changes in gut microbiota, their metabolic capabilities, and potential screening biomarkers linked to COVID-19 disease severity.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.