The Interplay of the Microbiome, Gut-Brain Axis and Systematic Racism

27 January 2023by Barış Özdinç

Systematic racism contributes to health inequities and partially manifests as daily episodes of discrimination. It is a threat to mental and physical health. 


There are links between negative health outcomes, such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune inflammatory disease and chronic stress which may be induced by racism, says a recent article published on CNBC

What does the latest research say?

The article highlighted a recent study where 154 patients underwent a brain MRI, fecal 16S rRNA sequencing, fecal metabolites and inflammatory markers measurements, as well as questioning about health and racial discrimination.


According to the analyses of microbiome, metabolome and immunomarkers by a discrimination scale, the study suggested that anxiety, depression, visceral sensitivity, cognition, self-perception, brain network alterations, as well as structural and functional changes in the gut microbiome, are all associated with discrimination. 


However, the study emphasized covariates other than discrimination affecting the interplay of the gut-brain axis and systematic racism. The findings suggested that race was a significant confounder of gut-brain axis variation due to discrimination. 


For instance, while some individuals did not develop inflammation, but instead anxiety due to discrimination, Asian individuals illustrated possible somatization and dietary responses to discrimination.


The study of Dong et al (2022) identified changes in the gut-brain axis that may be due to systematic discrimination, showing that racial discrimination is no different than any other long-term stressor negatively impacting human health. 


Altogether, the findings suggest that discrimination is not simply deprivation of one’s privileges, but also may have negative impacts on his or her health. To read more about the research, please see the original paper.

Looking for leading microbiome sequencing services to further your research?

At CosmosID, we provide leading microbiome sequencing services and bioinformatics solutions to help researchers advance their projects. Whether you’re making waves in the research, clinical or food and beverage industries, our platform of microbiome data generation, analysis and interpretation tools will help you achieve your goals.

Contact us today to learn how we can support your project.

Barış Özdinç

Barış Özdinç analyzes microbiome research with his educational background in genetics and evolution. As a research analyst for CosmosID, he combines metagenomics and data analyses to identify microbial biomarkers in disease cohorts and evaluate microbiome research tools. His work involves curating microbiome data and creating interesting microbiome content for newsletters and blog posts. Barış Özdinç received his bachelor’s degree in genetics and master’s degree in biodiversity, evolution, and conservation from University College London (UCL). Currently, he lives in Istanbul, Turkey, where he lives with his cat, Delight, and mentors female students in their STEM career pursuits.