Urinary lead concentration and composition of the adult gut microbiota in a cross-sectional population-based sample

Eggers, S., N. Safdar, A. K. Sethi, G. Suen, P. E. Peppard, A. E. Kates, J. H. Skarlupka, M. Kanarek, and K. M. C. Malecki. Urinary Lead Concentration and Composition of the Adult Gut Microbiota in a Cross-Sectional Population-Based Sample. Vol. 133, no. Pt A, Environment International, 2019.

DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105122 PMID: 31518933 PMCID: PMC7230144 BACKGROUND: Lead (Pb) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant with an array of detrimental health effects in children and adults, including neurological and immune dysfunction. Emerging evidence suggests that Pb exposure may alter the composition of the gut microbiota, however few studies have examined this association in human populations. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between urinary Pb concentration and the composition of the adult gut microbiota in a population-based sample of adults. METHODS: Data used in this study were collected as part of the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) and its ancillary microbiome study. The SHOW is a household-based health examination survey of Wisconsin residents, collecting a variety of survey data on health determinants and outcomes, as well as objective measurements of body habitus, and biological specimens including urine. The ancillary microbiome study added additional questions and biological specimen collection, including stool, from participants age 18+. Pb concentration was analyzed in urine samples, and gut microbiota composition was assessed using DNA sequencing of the 16S rRNA V4 region, extracted from stool samples. Data processing and statistical analyses were performed in mothur, Python, R, and SAS. RESULTS: Of 696 participants, urinary Pb concentration was highest in those age 70+, females, those with a high school diploma or lower, current and former smokers, and those without indoor pets. In adjusted models, increasing urinary Pb levels were associated with increases in microbial ?-diversity (p?=?0.071) and richness (p?=?0.005). Differences in microbial ?-diversity were significantly associated (p?=?0.003) with differences in urinary Pb level. Presence of Proteobacteria, including members of the Burkholderiales, was significantly associated with increased urinary Pb. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that Pb exposure is associated with differences in the composition of the adult gut microbiota in a population-based human sample. Further investigation of this association is warranted.

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