Protein intake, metabolic status and the gut microbiota in different ethnicities: results from two independent cohorts


  • P. Bel Lassen
  • I. Attaye
  • S. Adriouch
  • M. Nicolaou
  • J. Aron-Wisnewsky
  • T. Nielsen
  • R. Chakaroun
  • E. Le Chatelier
  • S. Forslund
  • E. Belda
  • P. Bork
  • F. Bäckhed
  • M. Stumvoll
  • O. Pedersen
  • H. Herrema
  • A. Groen
  • S.J. Pinto-Sietsma
  • A. Zwinderman
  • M. Nieuwdorp
  • K. Clement


  • Nutrients


  • Nutrients 13 (9): 3159


  • BACKGROUND: Protein intake has been associated with the development of pre-diabetes (pre-T2D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The gut microbiota has the capacity to produce harmful metabolites derived from dietary protein. Furthermore, both the gut microbiota composition and metabolic status (e.g., insulin resistance) can be modulated by diet and ethnicity. However, to date most studies have predominantly focused on carbohydrate and fiber intake with regards to metabolic status and gut microbiota composition. Objectives: To determine the associations between dietary protein intake, gut microbiota composition, and metabolic status in different ethnicities. METHODS: Separate cross-sectional analysis of two European cohorts (MetaCardis, n = 1759; HELIUS, n = 1528) including controls, patients with pre-T2D, and patients with T2D of Caucasian/non-Caucasian origin with nutritional data obtained from Food Frequency Questionnaires and gut microbiota composition. RESULTS: In both cohorts, animal (but not plant) protein intake was associated with pre-T2D status and T2D status after adjustment for confounders. There was no significant association between protein intake (total, animal, or plant) with either gut microbiota alpha diversity or beta diversity, regardless of ethnicity. At the species level, we identified taxonomical signatures associated with animal protein intake that overlapped in both cohorts with different abundances according to metabolic status and ethnicity. CONCLUSIONS: Animal protein intake is associated with pre-T2D and T2D status but not with gut microbiota beta or alpha diversity, regardless of ethnicity. Gut microbial taxonomical signatures were identified, which could function as potential modulators in the association between dietary protein intake and metabolic status.