A study conducted at the Université Catholique de Louvain was recently published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and has been getting a lot of attention. Researchers have demonstrated the role of Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacterium that resides in the mucus layer, in reversing high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders, in this study obesity and type-2 diabetes. Experiments were carried out in mice, but the team says they are confident they have found a rationale using this specific bacterium for future prevention and/or treatment of obesity and associated metabolic disorders. The finding, if confirmed, is important since the current research on the gut microbiota looks into the importance and interaction of our bug companions and their genetic potential with our health. The study raises many questions. The scientific debate is very cautious on the subject since so far the principle of linking a specific strain of bacteria to a specific disease has been viewed as dubious. It will thus be exciting to follow the coming up commentaries on the paper, and we'll make sure to put their reference under this topic.
It should be noted that the paper has been published in open access and is freely accessible. Find it and other references on the subject under this topic.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are characterized by altered gut microbiota, inflammation, and gut barrier disruption. Microbial composition and the mechanisms of interaction with the host that affect gut barrier function during obesity and type 2 diabetes have not been elucidated. We recently isolated Akkermansia muciniphila, which is a mucin-degrading bacterium that resides in the mucus layer. The presence of this bacterium inversely correlates with body weight in rodents and humans. However, the precise physiological roles played by this bacterium during obesity and metabolic disorders are unknown. This study demonstrated that the abundance of A. muciniphila decreased in obese and type 2 diabetic mice. We also observed that prebiotic feeding normalized A. muciniphila abundance, which correlated with an improved metabolic profile. In addition, we demonstrated that A. muciniphila treatment reversed high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders, including fat-mass gain, metabolic endotoxemia, adipose tissue inflammation, and insulin resistance. A. muciniphila administration increased the intestinal levels of endocannabinoids that control inflammation, the gut barrier, and gut peptide secretion. Finally, we demonstrated that all these effects required viable A. muciniphila because treatment with heat-killed cells did not improve the metabolic profile or the mucus layer thickness. In summary, this study provides substantial insight into the intricate mechanisms of bacterial (i.e., A. muciniphila) regulation of the cross-talk between the host and gut microbiota. These results also provide a rationale for the development of a treatment that uses this human mucus colonizer for the prevention or treatment of obesity and its associated metabolic disorders.
The whole community matters but, again, some species are particularly important. One of these Very Important Prokaryotes is called Akkermansia muciniphila. Willem de Vos from Waginingen University first discovered it in 2004 but humans have been carrying it for much longer. Akkermansia accounts for 3 to 5 percent of the bacteria in a normal gut, making it one of our more common intestinal microbes. And it seems to wield a strong influence on our body weight.
Bacteria that live in the gut have been used to reverse obesity and Type-2 diabetes in animal studies.
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