Genetic and Microbial Associations to Plasma and Fecal Bile Acids in Obesity Relate to Plasma Lipids and Liver Fat Content
Bile acids (BAs) are implicated in the etiology of obesity-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Differently structured BA species display variable signaling activities via farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and Takeda G protein-coupled BA receptor 1 (TGR5). This study profiles plasma and fecal BAs and plasma 7α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4) in 297 persons with obesity, identifies underlying genetic and microbial determinants, and establishes BA correlations with liver fat and plasma lipid parameters. We identify 27 genetic associations (p < 5 × 10-8) and 439 microbial correlations (FDR < 0.05) for 50 BA entities. Additionally, we report 111 correlations between BA and 88 lipid parameters (FDR < 0.05), mainly for C4 reflecting hepatic BA synthesis. Inter-individual variability in the plasma BA profile does not reflect hepatic BA synthetic pathways, but rather transport and metabolism within the enterohepatic circulation. Our study reveals genetic and microbial determinants of BAs in obesity and their relationship to disease-relevant lipid parameters that are important for the design of personalized therapies targeting BA-signaling pathways.