Shoaie S, Nielsen J
Front Genet 5 (-) 86 [2014-04-22; online 2014-04-22]
Increased understanding of the interactions between the gut microbiota, diet and environmental effects may allow us to design efficient treatment strategies for addressing global health problems. Existence of symbiotic microorganisms in the human gut provides different functions for the host such as conversion of nutrients, training of the immune system, and resistance to pathogens. The gut microbiome also plays an influential role in maintaining human health, and it is a potential target for prevention and treatment of common disorders including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Due to the extreme complexity of such disorders, it is necessary to develop mathematical models for deciphering the role of its individual elements as well as the entire system and such models may assist in better understanding of the interactions between the bacteria in the human gut and the host by use of genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs). Recently, GEMs have been employed to explore the interactions between predominant bacteria in the gut ecosystems. Additionally, these models enabled analysis of the contribution of each species to the overall metabolism of the microbiota through the integration of omics data. The outcome of these studies can be used for proposing optimal conditions for desired microbiome phenotypes. Here, we review the recent progress and challenges for elucidating the interactions between the human gut microbiota and host through metabolic modeling. We discuss how these models may provide scaffolds for analyzing high-throughput data, developing probiotics and prebiotics, evaluating the effects of probiotics and prebiotics and eventually designing clinical interventions.