Researchers further understanding of how gut bacteria regulate weight gain

May 15, 2014

Researchers at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in University College Cork have discovered how gut bacteria communicate with their host to specifically regulate weight gain and serum cholesterol levels.    The research, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, has implications for the rational selection and design of probiotics for the control of obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. 

The findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team led by Dr. Cormac Gahan and Dr. Susan Joyce has analysed a bacterial protein that modifies (a major component of bile secretions) in the gut. This protein, bile salt hydrolase, is commonly made by and functions to change the chemical properties of bile acids in the gut. The research team has shown that specifically increasing levels of this protein reduces serum cholesterol levels and weight gain in mice. The group are currently exploring the relevance of these findings to humans.

"Recent work by other groups has shown that bile acids act as signalling molecules in the host, almost like a hormonal network, with an ability to influence host metabolism. What we have done is to show that a specific mechanism exists by which bacteria in the can influence this process with significant consequences for the host,"  commented  Dr Gahan.

Dr Joyce added "the findings may be used as a basis for the future selection of probiotics or dietary interventions which target this mechanism to regulate or .  We now have the potential for matching probiotic strains with specific end-user needs. Work is underway to determine how this system operates in humans."

Explore further: New discoveries linking gut bacteria with cholesterol metabolism give hope for the future

More information: Susan A. Joyce, John MacSharry, Patrick G. Casey, Michael Kinsella, Eileen F. Murphy, Fergus Shanahan, Colin Hill, and Cormac G. M. Gahan. "Regulation of host weight gain and lipid metabolism by bacterial bile acid modification in the gut." PNAS 2014 ; published ahead of print May 5, 2014,. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323599111

Related Stories

New discoveries linking gut bacteria with cholesterol metabolism give hope for the future

February 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show that cholesterol metabolism is regulated by bacteria in the small intestine. These findings may be important for the development ...

Gut microbiota regulates bile acid metabolism

April 19, 2012
A new study presented today at the International Liver Congress 2012 demonstrates that the gut microbiota has a profound systemic effect on bile acid metabolism.

Researchers identify a mechanism linking bariatric surgery to health benefits

April 22, 2014
Bariatric surgery has positive effects not only on weight loss but also on diabetes and heart disease. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy and University of Cincinnati have shown that the health benefits are not caused ...

Gut metabolism changes—not stomach size—linked to success of vertical sleeve gastrectomy

March 26, 2014
It's not the size of the stomach that causes weight loss after a specific type of bariatric surgery, but rather a change in the gut metabolism, say researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC), the University of Gothenburg ...

Daily doses of a new probiotic reduces 'bad' and total cholesterol

November 5, 2012
Two daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood as well as "bad" and total cholesterol, in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

Host cholesterol secretion likely to influence gut microbiota

December 18, 2012
For more than half a century, researchers have known that the bacteria that colonize the gastrointestinal tract of mammals influence their host's cholesterol metabolism. Now, Jens Walter and colleagues of the University of ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gzurbay
not rated yet May 15, 2014
Does this help explain high cholesterol levels in cases where the diet is "normal".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.