Finlay & Mohn Labs

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The gut microbiome is a well-recognized modulator of host immunity, and its compositions differ between geographically separated human populations. Systemic innate immune responses to microbial derivatives also differ between geographically distinct human populations. However, the potential role of the microbiome in mediating geographically varied immune responses is unexplored. We here applied 16S amplicon sequencing to profile the stool microbiome and, in parallel, measured whole-blood innate immune cytokine responses to several pattern recognition receptor (PRR) agonists among 2-year-old children across biogeographically diverse settings. Microbiomes differed mainly between high- and low-resource environments and were not strongly associated with other demographic factors. We found strong correlations between responses to Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and relative abundances of Bacteroides and Prevotella populations, shared among Canadian and Ecuadorean children. Additional correlations between responses to TLR2 and bacterial populations were specific to individual geographic cohorts. As a proof of concept, we gavaged germfree mice with human donor stools and found murine splenocyte responses to TLR stimulation were consistent with responses of the corresponding human donor populations. This study identified differences in immune responses correlating to gut microbiomes across biogeographically diverse settings and evaluated biological plausibility using a mouse model. This insight paves the way to guide optimization of population-specific interventions aimed to improve child health outcomes.