Metagenomic analysis of gut microbial communities from a Central Asian population

Almagul Kushugulova, Sofia K. Forslund, Paul Igor Costea, Samat Kozhakhmetov, Zhanagul Khassenbekova, Maira Urazova, Talgat Nurgozhin, Zhaxybay Zhumadilov, Valery Benberin, Marja Driessen, Rajna Hercog, Anita Yvonne Voigt, Vladimir Benes, Stefanie Kandels-Lewis, Shinichi Sunagawa, Ivica Letunic, Peer Bork

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Changes in the gut microbiota are increasingly recognised to be involved in many diseases. This ecosystem is known to be shaped by many factors, including climate, geography, host nutrition, lifestyle and medication. Thus, knowledge of varying populations with different habits is important for a better understanding of the microbiome. Design We therefore conducted a metagenomic analysis of intestinal microbiota from Kazakh donors, recruiting 84 subjects, including male and female healthy subjects and metabolic syndrome (MetS) patients aged 25-75 years, from the Kazakh administrative centre, Astana. We characterise and describe these microbiomes, the first deep-sequencing cohort from Central Asia, in comparison with a global dataset (832 individuals from five countries on three continents), and explore correlations between microbiota, clinical and laboratory parameters as well as with nutritional data from Food Frequency Questionnaires. Results We observe that Kazakh microbiomes are relatively different from both European and East Asian counterparts, though similar to other Central Asian microbiomes, with the most striking difference being significantly more samples falling within the Prevotella-rich enterotype, potentially reflecting regional diet and lifestyle. We show that this enterotype designation remains stable within an individual over time in 82% of cases. We further observe gut microbiome features that distinguish MetS patients from controls (eg, significantly reduced Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, Bifidobacteria and Subdoligranulum, alongside increased Prevotella), though these overlap little with previously published reports and thus may reflect idiosyncrasies of the present cohort. Conclusion Taken together, this exploratory study describes gut microbiome data from an understudied population, providing a starting point for further comparative work on biogeography and research on widespread diseases. Trial registration number ISRCTN37346212; Post-results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere021682
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Gut Microbiome
  • Metagenomics
  • Probiotic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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