Human microbiome research to date
Studies using longitudinal sampling
Recent microbiome studies incorporating longitudinal sampling have identified critical insights into how microbiomes change in response to their environment and even prior to the onset of certain diseases:
Previous cross-sectional research has demonstrated associations between the vaginal microbiome and preterm birth, with varying results across different populations. However, larger longitudinal analyses have more recently shown that the changes in vaginal microbiome composition over time through pregnancy provide more sensitive insights into microbial signatures that are associated with preterm birth.
The gut microbiome differs between individuals with different diets, such as vegetarians vs omnivores. However, cross-sectional studies do not determine whether these differences are due to diets alone or other differences in lifestyles between vegetarians, omnivores or those with other diets. However, longitudinal studies, which track changes in gut microbiome composition over the course of time with changes in diet tell us much more about the influence of foods on the gut microbiome and associated health outcomes.
Inflammatory disease onset
A number of inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and arthritis have been associated with differences in gut microbiome composition. However, more recent evidence from longitudinal studies have shown changes in the gut microbiome that occur prior to the onset of these diseases or their symptoms, including type 1 diabetes onset in children and inflammatory bowel disease flare-ups in adults.
Human microbiomes can change daily (and even hourly…)
Monthly or weekly sampling can provide detailed insight into changes in human microbiome composition and function. However, a small number of research studies have examined daily changes in human microbiomes and found that there are changes apparent even from day-to-day in both infants and in adults consuming different diets. In fact, changes in the oral microbiome even change throughout a single 24 hour period, from morning to night. These studies suggest that studying microbiomes over multiple time-points is important to distinguish whether differences in microbiome profiles between individuals are due to differences in times or days of collection or due to other factors such as diet and disease.
Conducting your longitudinal microbiome study
As we learn more about the microbes that inhabit the human body and the role they play in human health and disease, it will become more important to study the changes in these microbes over time. The team at Microbiome Insights are leading experts in microbiome research studies from study design to analysis. If you are looking for advice on your microbiome research study, reach out to the team today.