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Obesity & Gut Bacteria

June 4, 2013

Obese and diabetic mice have less of a certain gut bacteria, and replenishing the bacteria helps them lose weight.



Bacteria versus obesity. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists are increasingly interested in the relationship between obesity and the microbes that live in our gut. Among them is physiologist Patrice Cani, of the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. He found that overfed mice with obesity and diabetes had less of a common gut bacteria, called A. muciniphila.

PATRICE CANI (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium): 

And when we supplement, when we treat the mice with this bacterium, we can protect the mice against the diet-induced obesity.

Among other things, he found that the bacteria generate chemical signals that may regulate their host’s fat metabolism. It’s not clear what dietary changes might reduce their numbers, but dietary fiber can help replenish them. Now he’s trying to find out more about the bacteria’s biological functions, and whether they have the same relationship to obesity in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.