Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Chinese Version)


Chinese populations; microbiome; international cooperation; health

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Humans are superorganisms with two genomes that dictate phenotype, the genetically inherited human genome (25 000 genes) and the environmentally acquired human microbiome (over 1 million genes). The two genomes must work in harmonious integration as a hologenome to maintain health. Poorly balanced diets can turn the gut microbiome from a partner for health to a "pathogen" in chronic diseases, for example, Type 2 diabetes and cancers. Due to the tight integration of gut microbiota into human global metabolism, molecular profiling of urine metabolites can provide a new window for reflecting physiological functions of gut microbiomes. Changes of gut microbiota and urine metabolites can thus be employed as new systematic approaches for quantitative assessment and monitoring of health at the wholebody level with the advantage of measuring human health based on the results of interactions between the two genomes and the environment rather than just host genomic information. Large-scale population-based studies in conjunction with these whole-body level systematic methods will generate pre-disease biomarkers with predictive power, thus making preventive health management of populations with rapidly changing disease spectrums possible through re-engineering of the imbalanced gut microbiomes with specially designed foods/diets. Chinese peoples are among the most widely distributed in the world. We hereby suggest the initiation of the International Healthy Chinese Microbiome Project (IHCMP), in which a multi-center cross-sectional epidemiological study throughout China as well as overseas will be conducted to characterize gut microbiome and metabolic phenotypes in healthy Chinese young adults who permanently reside in China or overseas. IHCMP will characterize gut microbiome and metabolic phenotypes in healthy Chinese young adults with vastly different environmental influences and define a healthy gut microbiome using an integrated metagenomics-metabolomics approach, and to elucidate what constitutes a gut ecological structure that is optimal for human health. This Project will also aid the modernization and internationalization of traditional Chinese medicine and medicinal foods which have been shown with gut microbiota as a primary target.

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Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences


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