The transition from a traditional to a Western lifestyle and its effect on the interrelation between diet, gut microbiome and health

HDHL INTIMIC cofunded call “Interrelation of the Intestinal Microbiome, Diet and Health” (IM 2017)
The transition from a traditional to a Western lifestyle and its effect on the interrelation between diet, gut microbiome and health
Mihai Netea
Radboud university medical center
The Netherlands


Partner Organization Partner Country
University of BonnGermany
University of Florence-Meyer Children HospitalItaly

1. Overall project description

1.1 Summary

Chronic diseases have increased to epidemic proportions in Western countries. The
composition of the gut microbiota influences health and disease. The comprehensive,
systems biology approach of the Human Functional Genomics Project (HFGP) offers
unprecedented opportunities to unravel to effects of gut microbiome on health and
disease. Still, important gaps in our knowledge remain of how diet influences the
composition of the microbiome and its effects on health. TransMic aims to fill these gaps
by studying the effects of traditional versus modern ‘Western’ diets on gut microbiome
and the functional consequences for health. Data from cohorts from populations in
different phases of the demographic transition from Tanzania (Work Package1), Burkina
Faso (WP2) and Europe will be used and analyzed using the comprehensive HFGP
approach (WP3). In addition, a short dietary intervention will be performed switching
young subjects from a Western to a traditional diet and vice versa (WP4). Omics-based
data, including microbiome composition, genetics, transcriptome, metabolome and
lipidome will be related to functional data, such as immune responses. This large-scale
analysis will provide important fundamental insights in the effects of diet on microbiome
and health in general and the health effects of ‘westernization’ of diet in particular. It will
thereby provide the necessary data for future innovative interventions to improve health,
such as directed dietary microbiota modulation.

1.2 Highlights

The first part pf TransMic studied the effects of rural-urban transition and the nutrition transition on different important biological processes. We found that healthy, urban-living Tanzanian individuals have increased proinflammatory cytokine production compared to rural-living individuals, suggesting increased inflammation at the tissue level. We also identified different food-derived and endogenous metabolites underlying these differences in immune profiles. Abundant metabolites in rural-living Tanzanians were predominantly metabolites with anti-inflammatory properties derived from traditional food sources. In contrast, metabolites belonging to the bile acid and cholesterol metabolism were more abundant in urban-living individuals. The importance of these metabolites to modulate immune responses was further substantiated by showing that plasma from urban-living individuals induced long-term reprogramming of monocytes into a proinflammatory phenotype, which could be prevented by dietary constituents from the traditional diet.

4. Impact

4.1 List of publications

AuthorsTitleYear, Issue, PPPartners NumberDoiPdf
Temba GS*, Kullaya V*, Pecht T*, Mmbaga BT, Aschenbrenner AC*, Ulas T*, Kibiki G, Lyamuya F, Boahen CK*, Kumar V*, Joosten LAB*, Schultze JL*, van der Ven AJ*, Netea MG*, de Mast Q*.Urban living in healthy Tanzanians is associated with an inflammatory status driven by dietary and metabolic changes.2021 Mar;22(3):287-300.2doi: 10.1038/s41590-021-00867-8Download

4.2 Presentation of the project

Target groupAuthorsMeans of communicationHyperlinkPdf
Scientists/medical professionalsGodfrey S. Temba, Vesla Kullaya, Tal Pecht, Blandina T. Mmbaga, Anna C. Aschenbrenner, Thomas Ulas, Joachim L. Schultze, Andre van der Ven, Mihai G. Netea, Quirijn de Mast. Partners: Radboudumc, Limes Bonn, KCMC. Title: The impact of urbanization, diet and serum metabolites on innate immune responses in healthy Tanzanian individuals. Meeting: New Frontiers in Innate Immune Memory. October 2019, Nijmegen, The NetherlandsOral presentation at international conference. Awarded by Nature Immunology Best Oral Presentation Award.
General public TanzaniaVesla Kullaya and Godfrey Temba (Radboudumc). Publication date Febr 17th 2021Radio interview on local radio station for Northern Tanzania (Sauti ya Injili) about results of TransMic project, emphasizing the important beneficial health effects of a traditional Tanzanian diet. Broadcasted Febr 17th 2021Download
General public TanzaniaVesla Kullaya and Godfrey Temba (Radboudumc). Publication date Febr 19th 2021Newspaper article in national newspaper Tanzania about results of TransMic project (WP1), emphasizing the important beneficial health effects of a traditional Tanzanian diet.Download
General public Tanzania Vesla Kullaya and Godfrey Temba (Radboudumc), March 2nd 2021News item on national TV station (Azam TV) regarding the results of TransMic with interviews TransMic researchers, emphasizing the important health effects of traditional diets.Download
General publicRadboudumc and LIMES institutePress release by partners (Radboudumc and LIMES institute) regarding results WP 1 of TransMic, which was picked up by different sites, e.g. SciencedailyLinkDownload
General public, policy makers, researchersQ. de Mast, Radboudumc. Interview about TransMic in Mediator, journal of ZonMW. Wat een westers dieet precies doet in het lichaam Studie in Afrika toont biologische processen bij diverse eetpatronen. Jan 2020InterviewLink

4.3 List of submitted patents and other outputs

Patent licencePartners involvedYearInternational eu or national patentCommentPdf

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s
H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement n.696300

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