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Gut microbiota may underlie the predisposition of healthy individuals to COVID-19

By Wanglong Gou, Yuanqing Fu, Liang Yue, Geng-dong Chen, Xue Cai, Menglei Shuai, Fengzhe Xu, Xiao Yi, Hao Chen, Yi Zhu, Mian-li Xiao, Zengliang Jiang, Zelei Miao, Congmei Xiao, Bo Shen, Xiaomai Wu, Haihong Zhao, Wenhua Ling, Jun Wang, Yu-ming Chen, Tiannan Guo, Ju-Sheng Zheng

Posted 25 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.22.20076091

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading globally with high disparity in the susceptibility of the disease severity. Identification of the key underlying factors for this disparity is highly warranted. Here we describe constructing a proteomic risk score based on 20 blood proteomic biomarkers which predict the progression to severe COVID-19. We demonstrate that in our own cohort of 990 individuals without infection, this proteomic risk score is positively associated with proinflammatory cytokines mainly among older, but not younger, individuals. We further discovered that a core set of gut microbiota could accurately predict the above proteomic biomarkers among 301 individuals using a machine learning model, and that these gut microbiota features are highly correlated with proinflammatory cytokines in another set of 366 individuals. Fecal metabolomic analysis suggested potential amino acid-related pathways linking gut microbiota to inflammation. This study suggests that gut microbiota may underlie the predisposition of normal individuals to severe COVID-19.

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