Investigating Microbiome Diversity in the UK Population

Funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity – Nottingham Orthopaedic Walk Fund 

Principal Investigator:    Dr Joanne Stocks

Start Date: Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic the start of this study has been delayed but will commence as soon as the current situation permits.

Watch the video below to learn about our research starting soon

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The gut microbiome is a vast ecosystem of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi and viruses which live in our digestive tracts. Gut microbes are key to many aspects of human health including development of obesity, maintaining the immune system, increasing skeletal muscle mass, and influencing the development of inflammatory arthritis. Studies in human twins have shown that, although there is a heritable component to gut microbiota, environmental factors related to diet, drugs, and body size and shape measurements are larger determinants of microbiota composition.

Investigating the effect of endurance and power athletic training on gut microbiome composition

There is evidence to suggest that exercise exerts some influence over the gut microbial composition and function, and that many of the compositional changes seen in gut microbiome associated with exercise are of benefit to the host. The compositional changes associated with regular physical activity include microbial diversity and increased abundance of beneficial bacteria. However, the influence of different types of exercise, such as power and endurance, on the gut microbiota and the difference compared to the microbiota of sedentary individuals is unknown.  We are undertaking a pilot study with MSc Sport and Exercise Medicine students to compare endurance athlete’s bacterial strains with bacterial strains from power athletes, specifically 100m sprinters. We are also investigating whether genetics are involved in the composition of the microbiome, through asking non-competitive siblings and parents of the athletes to donate a stool sample. Thus, this study will look at the adaptions of the microbiome with respect to training and diet.

Investigating the gut microbiome composition of a UK Afro-Caribbean cohort

Current research within the MSK BRC theme uses a predominantly Caucasian study population. Elite sprint athletes often have an Afro-Caribbean background and we also wish to recruit parents of these athletes to provide a stool sample for analysis. This will lead to the possibility of many different analyses; to see if genetics, or ageing are involved in the differences in gut microbiota; if different diets containing alternative probiotic foods have an influence compared to traditional British diets; and also through comparing with the Caucasian population in the MSK BRC cohort to see if ethnicity plays a role in MSK conditions such as osteoarthritis/frailty.