Gut Instinct

Microbes in the gut shown to regulate genes that control obesity and inflammation

(RxWiki News) Bacteria in the gut may play a far more significant role in weight loss and gastrointestinal problems than previously thought, according to new research.

According to researchers at the Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine, a deficiency of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), which recognizes resident microbes in human intestines, leads to changes in gut bacteria that resemble those found in thin humans. The research builds on previously established findings that indicate TLR2 deficiency protects against obesity. (While we normally associate deficiency with negative health connotations, in this instance the TLR2 eficiency is both good and bad in that is defends against obesity but also contributes to inflammation.)

For the study, researchers Richard Kellermayer, Ph.D., and cohorts analyzed normal mice and those deficient in TLR2 by looking at the large intestinal lining in the mice and found that the absence of TLR2 led to microbial changes that resembled lean animals and immunologic changes similar to those found in conditions like ulcerative colitis.

Kellermayer said the research may yield preventive and/or optimized treatment of common metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes, as well as gastrointestinal disorders by cementing TLR2 as a drug target for obesity, indicating further that management of gut bacteria may be a vital way to maintain weight.

Review Date: 
January 17, 2011