Obesity and the Human Microbiome

Ruth E. Ley


Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010;26(1):5-11. 

In This Article


An increasing number of studies relate imbalances in the composition of the gut microbiota to obesity and its associated diseases. The approaches used to characterize gut microbiotas vary widely, which might explain in part why the specific alterations in the microbiota associated with excess body fat, or weight loss, can also vary between studies. To compare studies will require some standardization of approaches or use of a variety of approaches within single studies. However, irrespective of the specific changes observed in microbial communities with respect to body fat, evidence suggests that microbes do indeed respond and contribute to host energy balance. They may do this using a number of different and possibly interactive signaling mechanisms involving innate immune responses, endocrine cells, and epithelial cells. An integration of mechanistically based investigations and microbial ecology studies using high-throughput sequencing will provide insights into how best to reshape host-microbial interactions to promote health.


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