According to a recent study, increasing certain strain of bacteria in the gut could reduce and avert obesity.
Earlier research had suggested that weight may be influenced by genes. However a new study reaffirms this theory that our genetic profile shapes which type of bacteria live in the gut and it will ultimately decide how obese we are.
These conclusions were drawn from a twin study which was conducted by researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and King’s College London in the UK which suggests that human genes control what type of bacteria we have in our gut and abundance of bacteria could affect our weight.
The research team was headed by Prof. Tim Spector, head of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London. The findings of the study will have a profound impact on how Doctors treat obesity. It will open new avenues of personalized probiotic treatment which could reduce the risks of obesity as well as the diseases precipitated by obesity. The study has been published in the journal Cell. The study involved researchers sequencing the genes of microorganisms present in over 1,000 fecal samples taken from 416 pairs of twins. These twins were a part of the Twins UK data registry.
Out of 416 pairs of twins, 171 were identical twins who shared 100% genes while 245 were non identical twins who shared 50% of their genes. The study discovered that identical twins had a similar quantity of specific types of gut bacteria, compared with non-identical twins. This proves that genes influence the type of bacteria present in the gut.
The study also revealed that a type of bacteria called Christensenellaceae was most influenced by genes. Another type of bacteria Christensenellaceae minuta was more abundant in individuals of a low body weight. When Christensenellaceae minuta was introduced in the gut of mice, researchers found that the mice gained less weight in comparison to those mice which did not receive the bacteria. This could have potential use in reducing or preventing obesity.
Commenting on their results, Prof. Spector says: “Our findings show that specific groups of microbes living in our gut could be protective against obesity – and that their abundance is influenced by our genes. The human microbiome represents an exciting new target for dietary changes and treatments aimed at combating obesity.”