Gut microbiota analyses of Saudi populations for type 2 diabetes-related phenotypes reveals significant association.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

BMC microbiology [electronic resource]


oregon; chiles; 16S RNA; Diabetes; Microbiota; Saudi Arabia; Humans; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2; RNA, Ribosomal, 16S; Gastrointestinal Microbiome; Microbiota; Glucose


BACKGROUND: Large-scale gut microbiome sequencing has revealed key links between microbiome dysfunction and metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). To date, these efforts have largely focused on Western populations, with few studies assessing T2D microbiota associations in Middle Eastern communities where T2D prevalence is now over 20%. We analyzed the composition of stool 16S rRNA from 461 T2D and 119 non-T2D participants from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. We quantified the abundance of microbial communities to examine any significant differences between subpopulations of samples based on diabetes status and glucose level.

RESULTS: In this study we performed the largest microbiome study ever conducted in Saudi Arabia, as well as the first-ever characterization of gut microbiota T2D versus non-T2D in this population. We observed overall positive enrichment within diabetics compared to healthy individuals and amongst diabetic participants; those with high glucose levels exhibited slightly more positive enrichment compared to those at lower risk of fasting hyperglycemia. In particular, the genus Firmicutes was upregulated in diabetic individuals compared to non-diabetic individuals, and T2D was associated with an elevated Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio, consistent with previous findings.

CONCLUSION: Based on diabetes status and glucose levels of Saudi participants, relatively stable differences in stool composition were perceived by differential abundance and alpha diversity measures. However, community level differences are evident in the Saudi population between T2D and non-T2D individuals, and diversity patterns appear to vary from well-characterized microbiota from Western cohorts. Comparing overlapping and varying patterns in gut microbiota with other studies is critical to assessing novel treatment options in light of a rapidly growing T2D health epidemic in the region. As a rapidly emerging chronic condition in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, T2D burdens have grown more quickly and affect larger proportions of the population than any other global region, making a regional reference T2D-microbiome dataset critical to understanding the nuances of disease development on a global scale.

Clinical Institute

Kidney & Diabetes


Earle A. Chiles Research Institute




Internal Medicine