A Scoping Review Evaluating the Current State of Gut Microbiota Research in Africa

Sara M. Pheeha, Jacques L. Tamuzi, Bettina Chale-Matsau, Samuel Manda, Peter S. Nyasulu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The gut microbiota has emerged as a key human health and disease determinant. However, there is a significant knowledge gap regarding the composition, diversity, and function of the gut microbiota, specifically in the African population. This scoping review aims to examine the existing literature on gut microbiota research conducted in Africa, providing an overview of the current knowledge and identifying research gaps. A comprehensive search strategy was employed to identify relevant studies. Databases including MEDLINE (PubMed), African Index Medicus (AIM), CINAHL (EBSCOhost), Science Citation index (Web of Science), Embase (Ovid), Scopus (Elsevier), WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), and Google Scholar were searched for relevant articles. Studies investigating the gut microbiota in African populations of all age groups were included. The initial screening included a total of 2136 articles, of which 154 were included in this scoping review. The current scoping review revealed a limited number of studies investigating diseases of public health significance in relation to the gut microbiota. Among these studies, HIV (14.3%), colorectal cancer (5.2%), and diabetes mellitus (3.9%) received the most attention. The top five countries that contributed to gut microbiota research were South Africa (16.2%), Malawi (10.4%), Egypt (9.7%), Kenya (7.1%), and Nigeria (6.5%). The high number (n = 66) of studies that did not study any specific disease in relation to the gut microbiota remains a gap that needs to be filled. This scoping review brings attention to the prevalent utilization of observational study types (38.3%) in the studies analysed and emphasizes the importance of conducting more experimental studies. Furthermore, the findings reflect the need for more disease-focused, comprehensive, and population-specific gut microbiota studies across diverse African regions and ethnic groups to better understand the factors shaping gut microbiota composition and its implications for health and disease. Such knowledge has the potential to inform targeted interventions and personalized approaches for improving health outcomes in African populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2118
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • F/B ratio
  • diseases
  • dysbiosis
  • eubiosis
  • gut diversity
  • gut microbiome
  • gut microbiota
  • gut richness
  • human health
  • taxonomic profiles


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