Wiping Out Gut Bugs Stops Obesity

In mice lacking intestinal microbiota, white fat turns brown and obesity is prevented.

By | November 16, 2015

FLICKR, NIAIDThe gut microbiome is typically considered essential for proper health, but a study in mice shows that, at least when it comes to insulin sensitivity and obesity, that may not be the case. In Nature Medicine today (November 16), researchers reported that animals without intestinal microbiota had better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, less white fat, and lower body mass.

“Although treating obesity with high doses of antibiotics is unrealistic—mainly due to the risk of antibiotic resistance—we want to explore alternative ways of suppressing or modifying the microbiota, and to identify the exact bacterial genes responsible for this phenomenon,” Mirko Trajkovski of the University of Geneva said in a statement. “We would then target only those, without having to deplete the entire microbiota.”

Trajkovski and his colleagues put mice on a high-fat diet after either erasing their microbiome with antibiotics or raising them in a germ-free environment. While normal mice became obese, the microbe-free mice remained lean and produced more beige fat, an energy-burning form of adipose tissue.

The germ-free mice also had higher levels of certain cytokines. “Inhibition of this signaling impairs antibiotic-induced subcutaneous-fat browning, and it suppresses the glucose phenotype of the microbiota-depleted mice,” the authors wrote in their study.

According to the press release, the researchers will search for the particular taxa involved in these effects by the use of specific antibiotics or bacteriophages.

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Avatar of: Stephen Lord

Stephen Lord

Posts: 7

November 17, 2015

Not surprising the obesity and diabetes epidemic is a true epidemic with its own vector or more likely vectors which reside in the gut.  There was some work done by Chinese researchers which found the chemical signals made by certain bacteria strains which caused the body to store fat in both mice and a test subject.  They also showed that the problem worsened the greater the % this strain represented in the intestinal biome and managed to reduce the % by using some traditional Chinese herbs.  I believe they probably used bitter melon as one of the herbs since this a traditional treatment for staonmach issues.  

It seems likely to me that these strains have been around for a long time but had little effect because for most of the time there was not enough food but now there is so a bacteria which effectively makes people hungry can thrive by getting more food.  All part of the ongoing competition. 

It would be interesting to look at vaginal vs Caesarean births as the Bacteria which initially colonize the babies intestines are different. 

I also note that the medical profession is following its usual policy of blaming the patient instead of looking for the vector. 

Avatar of: PastToTheFuture

PastToTheFuture

Posts: 93

November 17, 2015

Nice article. Nice comment Stephen.

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