Jillian L. Waters, Ruth E. Ley
The Christensenellaceae, a recently described family in the phylum Firmicutes, is emerging as an important player in human health. The relative abundance of Christensenellaceae in the human gut is inversely related to host body mass index (BMI) in different populations and multiple studies, making its relationship with BMI the most robust and reproducible link between the microbial ecology of the human gut and metabolic disease reported to date. The family is also related to a healthy status in a number of other different disease contexts, including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, Christensenellaceae is highly heritable across multiple populations, although specific human genes underlying its heritability have so far been elusive. Further research into the microbial ecology and metabolism of these bacteria should reveal mechanistic underpinnings of their host-health associations and enable their development as therapeutics.
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