Soy food intake associates with changes in the metabolome and reduced blood pressure in a gut microbiota dependent manner

  • Rachana D. Shah
    Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA, USA
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  • Zheng-Zheng Tang
    Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA

    Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Madison, WI, USA
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  • Guanhua Chen
    Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA

    Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Madison, WI, USA
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  • Shi Huang
    Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

    Vanderbilt Translational and Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center (VTRACC), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA
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  • Jane F. Ferguson
    Corresponding author. Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2220 Pierce Avenue, Preston Research Building Room 354, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.
    Vanderbilt Translational and Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center (VTRACC), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

    Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA
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      • Consumption of as little as one portion a week of soy foods may have metabolic effects in healthy US individuals.
      • Gut microbiome enterotype modulates associations between dietary soy intake, metabolites, and blood pressure.
      • Specific microbial taxa, including Prevotella and Dialister, have effects on blood pressure that are context-dependent.


      Background and aims

      Consumption of soy foods has been associated with protection against cardiometabolic disease, but the mechanisms are incompletely understood.
      We hypothesized that habitual soy food consumption associates with gut microbiome composition, metabolite production, and the interaction between diet, microbiota and metabolites.

      Methods and results

      We analyzed dietary soy intake, plasma and stool metabolites, and gut microbiome data from two independent cross-sectional samples of healthy US individuals (N = 75 lean or overweight, and N = 29 obese).
      Habitual soy intake associated with several circulating metabolites. There was a significant interaction between soy intake and gut microbiome composition, as defined by gut enterotype, on metabolites in plasma and stool. Soy consumption associated with reduced systolic blood pressure, but only in a subset of individuals defined by their gut microbiome enterotype, suggesting that responsiveness to soy may be dependent on microbiome composition. Soy intake was associated with differences in specific microbial taxa, including two taxa mapping to genus Dialister and Prevotella which appeared to be suppressed by high soy intake We identified context-dependent effects of these taxa, where presence of Prevotella was associated with higher blood pressure and a worse cardiometabolic profile, but only in the absence of Dialister.


      The gut microbiome is an important intermediate in the interplay between dietary soy intake and systemic metabolism. Consumption of soy foods may shape the microbiome by suppressing specific taxa, and may protect against hypertension only in individuals with soy-responsive microbiota.

      Clinical trials registry

      NCT02010359 at



      BMI (body mass index), C (Celsius), DHQ (diet history questionnaire), DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), FFQ (food frequency questionnaire), PCR (polymerase chain reaction), OTU (operational taxonomic unit)
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