The Christmas season can have a major impact on human health. Especially increased contact with in-laws during the holiday season is an important environmental factor known to affect both physical and mental health[1]. However, the mechanism through which in-laws influence host health is not yet understood. Emerging evidence has identified the intestinal microbiota as an important mediator for both physical and mental health. Here, we performed a prospective observational study to examine the impact of contact with in-laws on the gut microbiome during the Christmas season. We conducted 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing of fecal samples collected at two separate time points (December 23rdand December 27th 2016) from a group of 28 healthy volunteers celebrating Christmas. To discriminate between participants who visited their own family versus their in-laws, we built a multivariate statistical model that identified microbial biomarker species. We observed two distinct microbial-biomarker signatures discriminating the participants that visited their in-laws versus their own family over the Christmas season. We identified seven bacterial species whose relative-change profile differed significantly among these two groups. In participants visiting in-laws, there was a significant decrease in all Ruminococcusspecies, known to be associated with psychological stress and depression. A larger randomized controlled study is needed to reproduce these findings before we can recognize in-laws as a potential risk factor for the gut microbiota composition and subsequently host health.


Credit: iStock, gilaxia

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