Research has revealed that altering the make-up of the intestinal microbiota in mice can lead to changes in dietary habits.
Obese people could metabolise food differently, in a way that leads to depositing energy as fat, due to differences in gut microbe profiles than that of a lean individual.
"After eight weeks of high-fat feeding, we found that obesity-prone germ-free animals gained more weight, and had increased adiposity and 2 hour food intake compared to obesity-resistant germ-free," explained the researchers.
"These results demonstrate the ability of the gut microbiota to modulate host metabolism, by altering both intestinal nutrient sensing and energy-storing signalling pathway information, and ultimately contributing to the obese state," They suggested.
The intestinal bacteria of obesity-prone or obesity-resistant rats were transferred into the guts of germ-free mice with no innate gut microbiota, to determine whether changing the bacterial profile of an individual could reduce obesity risk.
A sample of the animals were fed a 'regular' diet, while others were allowed unlimited access to a high-fat diet. Food intake and weight were then monitored for a period of eight weeks, before samples of various physiological markers of metabolism and normal feedback mechanisms were taken.
The study revealed that mice receiving intestinal bacteria from obesity-prone animals consumed more food, gained the most weight and overall became more obese than the animals receiving microbiota from obesity-resistant animals.
Differences in gut microbes could be related to behavioural changes and increased food intake, this study has shown.
The researchers also believe that the microbiota profile an individual has may influence the ability to properly sense and respond to a meal.
Source: Abstract presented at the ASN conference
Study: "Gut microbiota modulates metabolic and nutrient sensing signalling pathways in obesity"