Summary: Researchers shed light on the epidemiological factors that help shape our gut bacteria from social relationships, socioeconomic status and health related behaviors.
Source: City University of New York.
The microbiome is emerging as a factor for many diseases for which there are known health disparities, pointing to the opportunity for investigation of this new area of biology in social and population health research. While recent research establishes the importance of the microbiome for human health, data on how the social environment shapes the microbiome is limited.
Jennifer Dowd, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at CUNY SPH, and recent MPH graduate Audrey Renson published a paper describing potential mechanisms of the social epidemiology of the microbiome. The review appeared in the journal Current Epidemiology Reports.
In the paper, the researchers laid out the many factors that shape the microbiome in humans, such as social relationships, socioeconomic status, and health behaviors.
“While research in this area is still very new, we found evidence of the importance of early life exposures, psychosocial stress, and the built environment in influencing the microbiome,” says Dowd. “We argue that broader consideration of how the social environment shapes the microbiome over the life course is needed to understand variation in the microbiome and ultimately how to intervene on it.”
Source: City University of New York
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the City University of New York news release.
Original Research: Open access research for ““Under the Skin” and into the Gut: Social Epidemiology of the Microbiome” by Jennifer Beam Dowd and Audrey Renson
in Circulation. Published September 20 2018.
“Under the Skin” and into the Gut: Social Epidemiology of the Microbiome
Purpose of the Review
As the science of the microbiome advances, social epidemiologists can contribute to understanding how the broader social environment shapes the microbiome over the life course. This review summarizes current research and describes potential mechanisms of the social epidemiology of the microbiome.
Most existing literature linking the social environment and the microbiome comes from animal models, focused on the impact of social interactions and psychosocial stress. Suggestive evidence of the importance of early life exposures, health behaviors, and the built environment also point to the importance of the social environment for the microbiome in humans.
Social epidemiology as a field is well poised to contribute expertise in theory and measurement of the broader social environment to this new area, and to consider both the upstream and downstream mechanisms by which this environment gets “under the skin” and “into the gut.” As population-level microbiome data becomes increasingly available, we encourage investigation of the multi-level determinants of the microbiome and how the microbiome may link the social environment and health.