PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
June 22, 2021; vol. 118 no. 25
The human gut microbiome and health inequities
Katherine R. Amato, Marie-Claire Arrieta, Meghan B. Azad, Michael T. Bailey, Josiane L. Broussard, Carlijn E. Bruggeling, Erika C. Claud, Elizabeth K. Costello, Emily R. Davenport, Bas E. Dutilh, Holly A. Swain Ewald, Paul Ewald, Erin C. Hanlon, Wrenetha Julion, Ali Keshavarzian, Corinne F. Maurice, Gregory E. Miller, Geoffrey A. Preidis, Laure Segurel, Burton Singer, Sathish Subramanian, Liping Zhao, and Christopher W. Kuzawa
PNAS June 22, 2021 118 (25) e2017947118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2017947118
Individuals who are minoritized as a result of race, sexual identity, gender, or socioeconomic status experience a higher prevalence of many diseases. Understanding the biological processes that cause and maintain these socially driven health inequities is essential for addressing them. The gut microbiome is strongly shaped by host environments and affects host metabolic, immune, and neuroendocrine functions, making it an important pathway by which differences in experiences caused by social, political, and economic forces could contribute to health inequities. Nevertheless, few studies have directly integrated the gut microbiome into investigations of health inequities. Here, we argue that accounting for host–gut microbe interactions will improve understanding and management of health inequities, and that health policy must begin to consider the microbiome as an important pathway linking environments to population health.