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Can a gut bacterium curb obesity?

By Tim Sandle     May 20, 2013 in Health
A certain bacterium has been found in high numbers in the guts of people who are not over weight and in lower numbers in people who are. The bacterium appears to have a role in preventing certain types of obesity.
Obesity and type II diabetes are both characterized by symptoms including inflammation, changes in the composition of the intestinal bacteria and the disruption of the natural barrier in the intestines. New research suggests that one bacterium, if present in the right numbers and under ideal conditions, could help to prevent the inflammation that triggers obesity.
The human digestive tract is home to a vast and varied population of microbes; there could, however, be one special bacterium among this vast number. A bacterium called Akkermansia muciniphila is present in the guts of all people, from babies through to the elderly. Based on human and animal examinations the bacterium is found in high numbers in the guts of people who are not over weight and in lower numbers in people who are.
It is thought that the presence of the bacteria strengthens the intestinal barrier, halts the inflammation reactions in fatty tissues and creates insulin resistance.
This hypothesis was explored through animal studies, according to the journal Nature. The researchers administered Akkermansia bacteria to ordinary mice on various diets. With a normal diet, no effect was noticed but in mice that became overweight as a result of a high-fat diet, the Akkermansia bacteria caused a reduction in fat development
The research was led by Prof. Patrice Cani from Brussels and Prof. Willem de Vos from Wageningen University. The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is titled “Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity.”
This is the latest in a series of research findings about the role that the bacteria inside the human body play in terms of diseases and health. Last year the Digital Journal reported on the role that the bacteria of the gut play in relation to strokes; the Digital Journal has discussed how the make-up of bacteria in a newborn baby's gut has been linked to the rate of early infant growth; and last month the Digital Journal explained how gut bacteria can help to predict heart attacks and strokes.
More about Bacteria, Obesity, Diet, Weight, Fat
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