Previous studies have shown both genetics and the gut microbiome influence a host’s metabolic phenotype. By analyzing the fecal samples of twins, researchers found that the abundance of many microbial taxa in the gut were influenced by genetics. The family Christensenellaceae was the most heritable, and co-occurred with a group of other microorganisms. This heritable group was associated with a lean body weight.
Researchers then wanted to know if Christensenellaceae played a causal role in determining weight; they took a microbiome associated with obesity and added Christensenella minuta. When they transplanted this community into germ-free mice, they observed a reduction in weight gain.
This study provides evidence that host genes indeed help shape the composition of the gut microbiome, and that this genetically-shaped microbiome can influence host metabolism.
Paul Enck Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany.
His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions.
He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.