News / Science & Technology

Gut Bacteria Might Contribute to Obesity

Microbes May Contribute to Obesityi
X
September 06, 2013
TEXT SIZE - +
New scientific evidence suggests what or how much we eat isn’t the only factor affecting our weight. The microbes living in our intestines matter, too.

The results of this new study raise the possibility that probiotic bacteria may someday be added to diet and exercise to help fight obesity.

In the study, cited in Science, researchers started with mice raised in sterile environments with no bacteria in their guts and gave them gut microbe samples taken from human twins, both identical and fraternal. The twins’ genes were similar, but one of each pair was obese, the other was not.

Mice that received gut bacteria from the obese twin gained more weight than those inoculated with the thin twin microbes, and their metabolisms showed signs of trouble like those seen in obese humans.

“That was a surprise,” said Ronald Evans, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute.

Evans was not involved in this research, but wrote a commentary on two related studies published last week in Nature.

The studies showed people with less diverse collections of microbes in their guts are more likely to gain weight, and show the beginning signs of diabetes, than those with more microbial diversity.

“The question [those studies] left on the table is, is the microbiome following the changes in our bodies,” he said, “or is it causing the changes in our bodies?”

He says the latest study takes an important step toward saying the microbes cause the changes.

But things really got interesting when the researchers put the obese-microbe mice and the lean-microbe mice in the same cage.

“Co-housing resulted in the invasion of the lean microbes into the obese cage mate’s gut community, but not vice versa,” said Washington University scientist Jeffrey Gordon, who coordinated the research.

When those lean microbes invaded and took over the guts of the obese-microbe mice, those mice gained less weight than mice that didn’t have a cage mate carrying lean microbes.

But it didn’t happen the other way around: having a fat cage mate didn’t make the lean-microbe mice fat.

But before anyone goes out to find a skinny roommate to help lose weight, consider that the mice swapped microbes through the unsavory habit of eating each other’s droppings.

“The question is, can we do this in people,” said Evans, the Salk Institute researcher, “and can we actually get to the point where we have a culture that would be what you might call a good bacteria, or probiotic pill?”

Gordon and his colleagues have cultured some of the microbes from the lean mice, but the cultures were less effective.

And for now, at least, it’s not possible to take a magic probiotic pill and eat all the hamburgers you want. Mice that ate a high-fat, low-vegetable diet gained weight regardless of what microbes they carried, though lean-microbe mice gained less weight. And this time the lean microbes didn’t take over the guts of obese-microbe mice.

“The answer appears to be diet, diet, diet,” Gordon said.

Better diets improved the diversity of microbes in overweight people’s guts in the two studies in Nature on which Evans commented, and reduced the metabolic symptoms that can lead to disease.

Except, unfortunately, in those people who already had diverse gut microbes. They didn’t get the same benefit from changing diets.

“When we dine, we don’t dine alone,” Evans said. “We are dining with all of our microbial friends that we’re carrying around with us.”

And there’s growing evidence that the 100 trillion or so microbes we carry on us and inside us - what scientists call our microbiome - are doing all sorts of things we never expected, from training our immune systems to regulating our moods.

Good reasons to treat them right, Evans says.

“You want to be nice to your microbiome. It could be our friend.”

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Debu-sen from: JPN
September 06, 2013 9:42 PM
It is interesting that microbes might cause obesity.
We know that lean people gain less weight when they eat same amount of food as fat people do.
We have understood that's caused by thier body characteristics and this report said that are microbes.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid