Probiotic prevents obesity in mice
A probiotic that prevents obesity and insulin resistance, even in a person eating a high-fat diet, could be on the horizon, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The research was done with mice, but the scientists say their results suggest that obesity and other chronic diseases could be treated by manipulating gut bacteria.
The researchers chose a bacterial strain that has been used as a probiotic to treat diarrhea for 100 years, then modified that strain to produce a compound called NAPE. This compound is normally synthesized in the small intestine after eating and is rapidly converted to another compound that reduces both food intake and weight gain. Some evidence suggests that people who eat a high-fat diet have lower production of NAPE.
For the study, the scientists added the NAPE-producing bacteria to the drinking water of mice that ate a high-fat diet for eight weeks. The mice that drank this water had dramatically lower food intake, body fat, insulin resistance and fatty liver compared to those who did not have the modified bacteria. The protective effects of the bacteria lasted for almost four weeks after the NAPE-producing bacteria was removed from the drinking water. Even after 12 weeks, those mice still had lower body fat and weight compared to the control mice.
The researchers say their goal is to be able to administer the bacteria only once. Their next step is to address regulatory issues related to containing the bacteria.