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Mapping human microbiome drug metabolism by gut bacteria and their genes


Individuals vary widely in drug responses, which can be dangerous and expensive due to treatment delays and adverse effects. Growing evidence implicates the gut microbiome in this variability, however the molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here we measured the ability of 76 diverse human gut bacteria to metabolize 271 oral drugs and found that many of these drugs are chemically modified by microbes. We combined high-throughput genetics with mass spectrometry to systematically identify drug-metabolizing microbial gene products. These microbiome-encoded enzymes can directly and significantly impact intestinal and systemic drug metabolism in mice and can explain drug-metabolizing activities of human gut bacteria and communities based on their genomic contents. These causal links between microbiota gene content and metabolic activities connect interpersonal microbiome variability to interpersonal differences in drug metabolism, which has implications for medical therapy and drug development across multiple disease indications.

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Author information

Correspondence to Andrew L. Goodman.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Tables

    This file contains Supplementary Tables 1-21 – see contents sheet for details

  2. Reporting Summary

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