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Bacteria in the Gut Improves the Management of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

The discovery of a gut bacteria could lead to new ways to control obesity and type 2 diabetes….

Previous studies have demonstrated that patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity have altered gut physiology. These people have increased inflammation as well as altered gut flora leading to a breakdown of the natural intestinal barrier and increased permeability. The discovery of Akkermansia muciniphila has helped scientists to better understand the interaction of intestinal gut flora and our metabolism.

In a recent study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Belgium found a benefit in the colonization of A. muciniphila with potential implications in the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes. A. muciniphila colonizes the mucus layer in the intestines making up about 3-5% of the total gut flora. This bacterium was found to have a larger presence in healthy individuals than compared to people with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Lead researchers, Prof. Patrice Cani and Prof. Willem de Vos, administered live A. muciniphila to mice. The mice were given a high fat diet and the gut barrier integrity, glucose homeostasis, and adipose tissue metabolism was observed.

The authors reported that mice treated with A. muciniphila showed a reversal in high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders. Overall fat-mass gain was reduced as well as a resolution of metabolic endotoxemia and adipose tissue inflammation. The study also found that A. muciniphila improved glucose tolerance and decreased endogenous hepatic glucose production.

In order to isolate the potential effect of this bacterium, heat-killed A. muciniphila bacteria were given to mice and fed the same high-fat diet. The same results were not observed, for the inflammation of gut was not reduced nor was there resolution of the metabolic disorders. The authors tested their hypothesis on mice colonized with the probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum, but again the metabolic disorders following the high-fat diet did not improve compared to A. muciniphila.

The results of this study have given some insight into understanding the role of our gut flora’s played in the body’s metabolic processes. Further understanding of A. muciniphila may lead to the development of a probiotic for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesityProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: