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Gut Bacteria Transfer

September 11, 2013

Gut microbes may be crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. The latest evidence comes from a study that transplanted human gut bacteria into mice.



Gut microbes and obesity. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Vanessa Ridaura handles bacteria cultures from obese and non-obese human twins that will be transplanted into mice as she discusses the research with Jeffrey Gordon (E. Holland Durando/Washington University)

There’s growing evidence that the bacteria in our gut can affect our weight. The latest comes from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. Microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon and his colleagues transplanted gut bacteria from either obese or slim humans into sterile mice. Mice that received bacteria from obese people gained more weight, and showed metabolic symptoms of obesity.

JEFFREY GORDON (Washington University in St. Louis):
That occurred, surprisingly, even though the mice were of identical genetic background, and even though the different groups of mice consumed the same amount of mouse chow. So we couldn’t attribute this difference to the amount of food they were consuming. The was something about the gut microbes.

What’s more, when mice from different groups were put in the same cages, the heavy mice slimmed down, but the slimmer ones stayed healthy. That suggests that the obese mice somehow acquired beneficial bacteria from their healthy roommates. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.