The role of tobacco smoke-induced changes of the microbiome in shaping risk for IBD

Associated Principal Investigator

Background and current state of research

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of disorders involving chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The incidence of this disease has increased since the 20th century. One of the hypotheses is that smoking interacts with the microbiome, as well as interacting with IBD risk genes directly. Due to the detrimental effect of smoking, our group concentrates on early microbiome changes and the resulting impact on the gut microbiome in the context of IBD risk, during both development and in adulthood.

This is a project within the DFG Research Unit RU5042 miTarget.

Our goals

In this project, the interaction between cigarette smoking, gene variants, and the microbiome will be studied. First, the dynamic picture and modulations of the microbiome in response to cigarette smoke exposure will be monitored. Second, to assess the potential causality by transplanting an at-risk microbiome into germ-free mice, which aims to assess the potential causality of a smoke-shifted microbiome for IBD development. Third, to determine the relative contribution of changes in epigenetic profiles versus the microbiome during maternal smoking to disease susceptibility. This will provide a better understanding of the impact of parental smoking as a driving force of microbiome modulation. Finally, employing epigenetic and transcriptome analysis, which will deliver a picture of the molecular consequences in the host as a result of parental smoking. At the end of this project, we will have some insights on smoking and the risk of developing IBD. We will further highlight the role of the microbiome in this mechanism.