In an article published online on June 24, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Zhongyi Chen and Lilu Guo, from the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, showed that the administration of a modified bacteria expressing therapeutic factors in the gut microbiota could reduce food intake and obesity.
By adding an engineered NAPE*-expressing E. coli Nissle 1917 strain in the drinking water of mice for 8 weeks, despite a high-fat diet, Zhongyi Chen and Lilu Guo demonstrated a reduction of the levels of obesity in mice.
Mice receiving the modified E. colistrain had lower food intake, adiposity, insulin resistance, and hepatosteatosis compared with mice receiving standard water or control bacteria. The protective effects persisted for at least 4 weeks after removal of the modified strain in drinking water.
Moreover, administration of NAPE-expressing bacteria to TallyHo mice, a polygenic mouse model of obesity, inhibited weight gain.
This study is a first step for the development of potential new treatments for obesity and other related diseases, based on the incorporation of appropriately modified bacteria into the gut microbiota.