Issue: October 2015
Perspective from Suzanne Devkota, PhD
October 16, 2015
2 min read

Bacterium leads to better metabolic health in adults with obesity

Issue: October 2015
Perspective from Suzanne Devkota, PhD
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The gut microbe Akkermansia muciniphila, a mucin-degrading bacterium, was associated with improved metabolic health and clinical outcomes after calorie restriction in individuals with overweight and obesity, according to recent study data.

A. muciniphila has been previously shown to lower body fat mass, improve glucose homoeostasis, decrease adipose tissue inflammation and increase gut integrity in mice, but the role of this gut microbe in humans “remains ambiguous.” Researchers from Europe, therefore, assessed potential associations between fecal A. muciniphila abundance, fecal microbial gene richness, diet, host anthropometric and metabolic characteristics and their subsequent changes after a calorie restriction intervention in adults with overweight and obesity (n = 49; 41 women).

Participants did not have diabetes or chronic or inflammatory diseases, did not take antibiotics for 2 months before stool collection, and adhered to a 6-week calorie restriction diet followed by a 6-week weight stabilization period.

Researchers found that A. muciniphila had an inverse association with fasting glucose, waist-to-hip ratio and subcutaneous adipocyte diameter at baseline. Higher abundance of A. muciniphila along with greater microbial gene richness was associated with healthier metabolic status, especially in fasting plasma glucose, plasma triglycerides and body fat distribution. Higher baseline A. muciniphila was associated with greater improvement in insulin sensitivity markers and other clinical parameters after the calorie restriction intervention. Calorie restriction was linked to a reduction in A. muciniphila abundance overall, but the abundance remained more than 100 times higher in individuals with higher baseline abundance compared with those who had lower baseline abundance. A. muciniphila was also associated with 27 other metagenomic species (P < .01) that may be part of “an ecosystem that influences the complicated interaction between host biology and environment,” according to researchers. – by Adam Leitenberger

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.