August 8, 2019

A probiotic treatment for obesity?

Engineered bacteria that produce beneficial compounds — and that could potentially be administered in foods like yogurt — may be a future treatment for obesity and other chronic diseases.

Alterations in the gut microbiota — the microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract — have been implicated in the development of obesity and other chronic diseases.

Sean Davies, PhD, and colleagues previously reported a strategy for engineering gut microbiota to produce beneficial compounds that combat obesity. They showed that administration of bacteria engineered to produce NAPEs, a family of bioactive lipids with known anti-obesity properties, inhibited weight gain and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice. In their earlier studies, they pre-treated the mice with antibiotics and administered the engineered bacteria for eight weeks.

Now, they have found that less onerous protocols — no antibiotics and only two weeks of bacteria — still impart resistance to diet-induced obesity and sustained NAPE biosynthesis. In addition, they had success using a human NAPE-producing enzyme.

The findings, reported in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, support further studies of engineered bacteria that produce beneficial compounds as a treatment strategy for obesity and other chronic diseases.

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (grants AT007830, DK059637).