The gut microbiome influences nutrient processing as well as host physiology. Plasma lipid levels have been associated with the microbiome, although the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown, and the effects of dietary lipids on the gut microbiome in humans are not well-studied. We used a compilation of four studies utilizing non-human primates (Chlorocebus aethiops and Macaca fascicularis) with treatments that manipulated plasma lipid levels using dietary and pharmacological techniques, and characterized the microbiome using 16S rDNA. High-fat diets significantly reduced alpha diversity (Shannon) and the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio compared to chow diets, even when the diets had different compositions and were applied in different orders. When analyzed for differential abundance using DESeq2, Bulleidia, Clostridium, Ruminococcus, Eubacterium, Coprocacillus, Lachnospira, Blautia, Coprococcus, and Oscillospira were greater in both chow diets while Succinivibrio, Collinsella, Streptococcus, and Lactococcus were greater in both high-fat diets (oleic blend or lard fat source). Dietary cholesterol levels did not affect the microbiome and neither did alterations of plasma lipid levels through treatments of miR-33 antisense oligonucleotide (anti-miR-33), Niemann–Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) antisense oligonucleotide (ASO), and inducible degrader of LDLR (IDOL) ASO. However, a liver X receptor (LXR) agonist shifted the microbiome and decreased bile acid levels. Fifteen genera increased with the LXR agonist, while seven genera decreased. Pseudomonas increased on the LXR agonist and was negatively correlated to deoxycholic acid, cholic acid, and total bile acids while Ruminococcus was positively correlated with taurolithocholic acid and taurodeoxycholic acid. Seven of the nine bile acids identified in the feces significantly decreased due to the LXR agonist, and total bile acids (nmol/g) was reduced by 62%. These results indicate that plasma lipid levels have, at most, a modest effect on the microbiome, whereas bile acids, derived in part from plasma lipids, are likely responsible for the indirect relationship between lipid levels and the microbiome.

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Published in Frontiers in Medicine, v. 8, article 646710.

© 2021 Lang, Sedgeman, Cai, Layne, Wang, Pan, Lee, Temel and Lusis

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This work was supported by NIH grants HL144651 and DK117850 (AL) and NIH grants HL088528 and HL111932 (RT). JL was supported by NIH T32 DK007789.

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The datasets presented in this study can be found in online repositories. The names of the repository/repositories and accession number(s) can be found below: NCBI SRA repository, accession numbers: PRJNA701533 (Oleic Blend), PRJNA714188 (Recovery), PRJNA707361 (Lipid 392 Homeostasis), and PRJNA713505 (Biliary Cholesterol).