New link between gut bacteria and obesity

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a new link between gut bacteria and obesity. They found that certain amino acids in our blood can be connected to both obesity and the composition of the gut microbiome. We know less about the significance of our gut bacteria than what many books and magazines on the subject seem to suggest. A lot of the research on the topic is based on animal studies which cannot be directly applied to humans. Also, a healthy gut flora for one person may not necessarily be good for someone else.

However, an increasing number of research studies indicate that our gut microbiota does play an important role in our health. It affects our metabolism and can be linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have shown that people with these diseases have varying occurrence of different metabolites, i.e. small molecules or metabolic residues, in the bloodstream. The aim of the new study was therefore to identify metabolites in the blood that can be linked to obesity (high body mass index, BMI) and to investigate whether these obesity-related metabolites affect the composition of the bacterial flora in stool samples.

The researchers analysed blood plasma and stool samples from 674 participants in the Malmö Offspring Study, MOS. They found 19 different metabolites that could be linked to the person's BMI; glutamate and so-called BCAA (branched-chain and aromatic amino acids) had the strongest connection to obesity.

They also found that the obesity-related metabolites were linked to four different intestinal bacteria (Blautia, Dorea and Ruminococcus in the Lachnospiraceae family, and SHA98).

"The differences in BMI were largely explained by the differences in the levels of glutamate and BCAA. This indicates that the metabolites and gut bacteria interact, rather than being independent of each other", says Marju Orho-Melander, professor of genetic epidemiology at Lund University.

By far the strongest risk factor for obesity in the study, glutamate, has been associated with obesity in previous studies, and BCAA has been used to predict the future onset of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"This means that future studies should focus more on how the composition of gut bacteria can be modified to reduce the risk of obesity and associated metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease", says Marju Orho-Melander. "To get there, we first need to understand what a healthy normal gut flora looks like, and what factors impact the bacterial composition. This requires large population studies, like the Malmö Offspring Study, as well as intervention studies", she concludes.

Filip Ottosson, Louise Brunkwall, Ulrika Ericson, Peter M Nilsson, Peter Almgren, Céline Fernandez, Olle Melander, Marju Orho-Melander.
Connection between BMI related plasma metabolite profile and gut microbiota.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, jc.2017-02114. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-02114

Most Popular Now

Delivering insulin in a pill

Given the choice of taking a pill or injecting oneself with a needle, most of us would opt to regulate a chronic health condition by swallowing a pill. But for millions o...

Probiotics can protect the skeletons of older wome…

For the first time in the world, researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have demonstrated that probiotics, dietary supplements with health-promoting bacteri...

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may dr…

Alzheimer's disease could be better treated, thanks to a breakthrough discovery of the properties of the metals in the brain involved in the progression of the neurodegen...

Can aspirin treat Alzheimer's?

A regimen of low-dose aspirin potentially may reduce plaques in the brain, which will reduce Alzheimer's disease pathology and protect memory, according to neurological r...

FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ing…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) [CBD] oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms o...

In mice, stem cells seem to work in fighting obesi…

Obesity is an increasing global health problem associated with several comorbidities and a high risk of mortality. A wide spectrum of interventions has been proposed for ...

FDA takes steps to foster greater efficiency in bi…

Today, the agency withdrew the draft guidance, "Statistical Approaches to Evaluate Analytical Similarity," issued in September 2017. The draft guidance, if finalized as w...

Research shows how a moderate dose of alcohol prot…

For at least 20 years, research has shown that for many people, moderate consumption of alcohol can protect the heart, but the reason for this is poorly understood. A stu...

Some existing anti-cancer drugs may act in part by…

Bolstering the notion that RNA should be considered an important drug-discovery target, scientists at Scripps Research have found that several existing, FDA-approved anti...

'Kiss of death' cancer

It's called the 'kiss of death'. Triple negative breast cancer has no targeted drug therapy and, as such, the only hope for these patients is chemotherapy. Triple negativ...

Novartis Clear about Psoriasis survey data highlig…

Novartis announced today the publication of global Clear about Psoriasis survey data in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology[1]. The publica...

Poliovirus therapy for recurrent glioblastoma has …

A genetically modified poliovirus therapy developed at Duke Cancer Institute shows significantly improved long-term survival for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, wit...