Gut Microbiome Composition and Serum Metabolome Profile Among Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury and Normal Glucose Tolerance or Prediabetes/Type 2 Diabetes



      To compare the gut microbiome composition and serum metabolome profile among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) and normal glucose tolerance (NGT) or prediabetes/type 2 diabetes (preDM/T2D).


      Cross-sectional design.


      Research university.


      A total of 25 adults (N=25) with SCI were included in the analysis and categorized as NGT (n=16) or preDM/T2D (n=9) based on their glucose concentration at minute 120 during a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test. The American Diabetes Association diagnosis guideline was used for grouping participants.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      A stool sample was collected and used to assess the gut microbiome composition (alpha and beta diversity, microbial abundance) via the 16s ribosomal RNA sequencing technique. A fasting serum sample was used for liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry–based untargeted metabolomics analysis, the results from which reflect the relative quantity of metabolites detected and identified. Gut microbiome and metabolomics data were analyzed by the Quantitative Insights into Microbial Ecology 2 and Metaboanalyst platforms, respectively.


      Gut microbiome alpha diversity (Pielou's evenness index, Shannon's index) and beta diversity (weighted UniFrac distances) differed between groups. Compared with participants with NGT, participants with preDM/T2D had less evenness in microbial communities. In particular, those with preDM/T2D had a lower abundance of the Clostridiales order and higher abundance of the Akkermansia genus, as well as higher serum levels of gut-derived metabolites, including indoxyl sulfate and phenylacetylglutamine (P < .05 for all).


      Our results provide evidence for altered gut microbiome composition and dysregulation of gut-derived metabolites in participants with SCI and preDM/T2D. Both indoxyl sulfate and phenylacetylglutamine have been implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases in the able-bodied population. These findings may inform future investigations in the field of SCI and cardiometabolic health.

      List of abbreviations:

      ASVs (amplicon sequence variant), GI (gastrointestinal), IL (interleukin), IS (indoxyl sulfate), NGT (normal glucose tolerance), OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test), preDM/T2D (prediabetes/type 2 diabetes), QIIME 2 (Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology 2), SCI (spinal cord injury), TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor α), UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham)


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