Gut Microbiota-Drug Interactions: Microbial Minutes

March 16, 2023

If you take a medication and it doesn’t work, are your gut microbes to blame? How are scientists using digital tools to explore drug-gut microbiota interactions—and why are these insights important?

What's Hot in the Microbial Sciences?

ASM presents Microbial Minutes, a monthly video series of trending topics in the microbial sciences.

Gut bacteria influence the activity, efficacy and even side effects of medications. Here, we explore how pharmaceutical drugs impact the gut microbiota, and vice versa. We also discuss the use of computational resources to better understand these complex interactions, and their potential utility in clinical care. Take-away points and key resources discussed in this Microbial Minutes are listed below.

Take-Away Points

  • The activity and efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs are influenced by interactions with the gut microbiota.
  • Improved understanding of these interactions could inform personalized, microbiome-informed treatment regimens.
  • Such knowledge depends on digital tools for analyzing the drug degradation, metabolism and biotransformation capabilities of complex microbial communities.

Key Resources

  • Heinkin A., et al. Genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of 7,302 human microorganisms for personalized medicine. Nature Biotechnology. Jan. 19, 2023.
  • Maier L., et al. Extensive impact of non-antibiotic drugs on human gut bacteria. Nature. March 19, 2018.
  • Rekdal V. M., et al. Discovery and inhibition of an interspecies gut bacterial pathway for Levodopa metabolism. Science. June 14, 2019.
  • Weersma R.K., et al. Interactions between drugs and the gut microbiome. Gut. May 14, 2020.
  • Wilmanski T., et al. Heterogeneity in statin response explained by variation in the human gut microbiome. Med. June 10, 2022.
  • Wu H., et al. Metformin alters the gut microbiome of individuals with treatment-naive type 2 diabetes, contributing to the therapeutic effects of the drug. Nature Medicine. May 22, 2017.

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Author: Madeline Barron, Ph.D.

Madeline Barron, Ph.D.
Madeline Barron, Ph.D. is the Science Communications Specialist at ASM. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.