Project: From diet to a healthy immune system: understanding biological food paths to oppose metabolic syndromes and infectious diseases

Project Topic A healthy, balanced diet is important for keeping metabolic health and supporting immune system. Obesity is associated with a wide range of metabolic syndromes, including dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia and fatty liver. Hyperglycemia and lipid accumulation may provoke lipid oxidation and further lead to an overproduction of cytokines, hyperactivation of complement system and activation of coagulation system, which all serve as immunological triggers to severe infection of COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases and will be considered as immune response related outcomes in the current project. The DIYUFOOD project aims to leverage extensive multi-omics and clinical data collected from four population-based cohort studies set up in Israel, the Netherlands, the UK and China respectively, with diverse ethnicity backgrounds, dietary patterns and socioeconomic status, to disentangle casual pathways using both mediation analysis in observational studies and Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis using genetic variants as instrumental variables for causal inference. First, we will explore all the potential associations between dietary patterns and immune response, as well as potential metabolicrelated mediators to explain the observed associations between diet and immune response through mediation analysis in the four observational studies. Second, we will dive into the mediating roles of gut microbial composition in the associations between dietary patterns and immune response. Third, once several species of microorganisms are identified in the second step, we will further examine the roles of circulating metabolites in mediating the associations between gut microbial composition and immune response, due to extremely diverse metabolites are produced by gut microbiota. Last, for all the associations observed from step 1 to step 3 between metabolic syndromes, gut-microbiota derived metabolites and immune response, we will utilize MR studies to further corroborate the casual associations. In addition, we will extend to the associations between metabolic syndromes as well as gutmicrobiota derived metabolites and severity of COVID-19, mediated through certain immune response, using Multivariable MR analysis. The biological “food path” from dietary intake to immune response and subsequent disease outcomes are complex, and our project will provide deeper understanding of underlying causal pathways, which is imperative to develop effective food solutions to combat disease risks.
Network JPI HDHL

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Weizmann Institute of Science Coordinator Israel
2 Leiden University Medical Center Partner Netherlands
3 Leiden University Medical Center Partner Netherlands
4 University of Bristol Partner United Kingdom
5 San Yat Sen University Observer China
6 FIRALIS Observer France