The impact of drugs on gut microbes is greater than we thought

Bork lab Drug gut microbiome interactions 1000px

Commonly prescribed drugs can affect gut microbes in different ways. Credit: Isabel Romero Calvo/EMBL

We are one of the most medicated generations of humans to live on our planet. Cardiometabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease continue to increase in prevalence and together constitute the highest cause of mortality worldwide. Affected people often have to take multiple daily medications for months or even years.

Researchers from the Bork group at EMBL Heidelberg, working together with a European consortium involving more than twenty European institutes, have now shown that many commonly used drugs have powerful effects on our gut microbes. These include drugs used to treat cardiometabolic disorders and antibiotics.

“We analysed the effects of 28 different drugs and several drug combinations,” explained Peer Bork, Director of Scientific Activities at EMBL Heidelberg, “Many drugs negatively impact the composition and state of the gut bacteria, but others, including aspirin, can have a positive influence on the gut microbiome. We found that drugs can have a more pronounced effect on the host microbiome than disease, diet, and smoking combined.”

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