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article imageGlucose intolerance linked to gut bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Nov 2, 2014 in Science
London - Synchronous co-ordination between our bacteria and biological clocks is necessary for preventing obesity and glucose intolerance, according to a new study. This is a further example of the important role gut bacteria play in human health.
The toils of a 24-7 society, consisting of shift patterns and overnight flights, has challenged the sleeping and waking cycles of people to a level not seen 50 years ago. New research suggests that these disruptions to the body’s circadian rhythms affected the population of gut bacteria. In turn, the composition of the bacteria that reside within the human body influence glucose levels and the possibility of obesity developing.
The reason for this, many scientists hypothesise, is because the populations of microbes living in and on our bodies function as an extra "organ" (a microbiome) that influences health and well-being. Previous research, as reported by Digital Journal, has shown that intestinal bacteria populations differ between the obese and the lean in humans.
In a new study, Christoph Thaiss of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department found that a standard day-night cycle affects the composition and the function of certain populations of gut bacteria in mice. This seems to be because the gut microbes co-ordinate their metabolic activities with a human (or animal’s) feeding cycles.
In order to explore the effect of disruption, Thaiss’ team examined "jet-lagged" mice. These were mice whose day-night rhythms had been altered by exposing them to light and dark at different intervals to create the transatlantic flight experience. It was found that the jet-lagged mice stopped eating at regular times, and this interrupted the cyclic rhythms of their internal bacteria, leading to weight gain and high blood sugar levels.
To explore further, Thaiss transferred bacteria from the jet-lagged mice into sterile mice. It was found that the mice who received the "jet-lagged microbes" gained weight and went onto develop high blood sugar levels.
It would seem that the bacteria within the gut are manipulative — some are aligned with an animal’s dietary goals, and others are not. A bias one way or another can be affected when natural sleep patterns or eating times are altered.
Although the study has only been carried out on rodents, the results are worth exploring further and they may have implications for human health and physiology. Moreover, the findings indicate that researchers are starting to identify bacteria that are correlated with clinical parameters, which suggests that the gut microbiota could one day be targeted with medication, diet or lifestyle changes.
The findings have been published in the journal Cell. The paper is titled “Transkingdom Control of Microbiota Diurnal Oscillations Promotes Metabolic Homeostasis.”
More about Glucose, Diabetes, Bacteria, Guts, microbiome
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