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How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding

Date:
May 14, 2014
Source:
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Summary:
Gut bacteria communicate with their host to specifically regulate weight gain and serum cholesterol levels, new research has found. The research has implications for the rational selection and design of probiotics for the control of obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. "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 gut can influence this process with significant consequences for the host," commented one researcher.

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 USA.

The team led by Dr. Cormac Gahan and Dr. Susan Joyce has analyzed a bacterial protein that modifies bile acids (a major component of bile secretions) in the gut. This protein, bile salt hydrolase, is commonly made by gut bacteria 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 gut 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 weight gain or high cholesterol. 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. A. Joyce, J. MacSharry, P. G. Casey, M. Kinsella, E. F. Murphy, F. Shanahan, C. Hill, C. G. M. Gahan. Regulation of host weight gain and lipid metabolism by bacterial bile acid modification in the gut. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323599111

Cite This Page:

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). "How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514133029.htm>.
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). (2014, May 14). How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514133029.htm
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). "How gut bacteria regulate weight gain: Study provides further understanding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514133029.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

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