GM probiotics reduce insulin resistance and body fat: Mouse data

“Our results demonstrate that incorporation of appropriately modified bacteria into the gut microbiota has potential as an effective strategy to inhibit the development of metabolic disorders."

Mice lost weight and had significantly lower insulin resistance and body fat after taking genetically modified bacteria that produce the lipid compound NAPE in the gut, researchers from Vanderbilt University have found.

Mice that received the bacteria making the appetite suppressing drug NAPE weighed 10-12% less than the untreated mice, had 35% less overall body fat and had 56% less fat in their liver,” senior investigator Sean Davies told NutraIngredients.

The team genetically modified the E.coli Nissle strain, which has been used as a probiotic treatment for diarrhoea for nearly a century, to produce a lipid compound called NAPE.

“Previous research had shown that NAPE was made by the small intestine when people ate a meal, and that it could send signals to the brain that would reduce appetite and body weight,” said Davies.

He said there was evidence that NAPE production may be reduced in obese people, provoking reduced feelings of satiety and therefore a greater likelihood of overeating.

“We thought that if we could get the gut bacteria to make enough NAPE in addition to what was made by the intestine, it would help suppress appetite,” he continued.

Study design

The scientists added the NAPE-producing bacteria to the drinking water of mice fed a high fat diet for eight weeks. Mice that received the modified bacteria had dramatically lower food intake, body fat, insulin resistance and fatty liver compared to the mice receiving the control bacteria.

These effects lasted for at least four weeks after the NAPE-producing bacteria were removed from the drinking water.

“Our results demonstrate that incorporation of appropriately modified bacteria into the gut microbiota has potential as an effective strategy to inhibit the development of metabolic disorders,” wrote the researchers.

The obesity battle

Davies pointed out that this was early stage research in mice not humans, but admitted, “it looks promising”.

“I wouldn’t say it will be a complete ‘cure’ for obesity but it could be an effective treatment for helping people reach a body weight that prevents many of the problems associated with obesity, like diabetes.”

The EU’s heavy regulation of GMOs means that it would be some time – if ever – before such a probiotic strain would be authorised for sale in the region. But could findings such as these, which demonstrate the positive potential of genetic modification, go some way to softening the anti-GM sentiment that pervades Europe?

“Obviously the more we can show that the use of therapeutic bacteria is safe and effective, the more likely we will increase acceptance of their use. Europe has generally been ahead of the US in the use of probiotics, so that might be something that can be built on,” suggested Davies.

Regulatory hurdles

The investigators are working on strategies to address regulatory issues related to containing the bacteria, because, as Davies explained: “Preclinical studies in animals will need to show that these organisms won’t spread to untreated individuals and that they don’t cause harm to animals with less functional immune systems where it might be more likely for the bacteria to leave their home in the gastrointestinal tract and invade the blood stream.”


The Journal of Clinical Investigation

doi: 10.1172/JCI72517. 
‘Incorporation of therapeutically modified bacteria into gut microbiota inhibits obesity’

Authors: Zhongyi Chen, Lilu Guo, Yongqin Zhang, Rosemary L. Walzem, Julie S. Pendergast, Richard L. Printz, Lindsey C. Morris, Elena Matafonova, Xavier Stien, Li Kang, Denis Coulon, Owen P. McGuinness, Kevin D. Niswender and Sean S. Davies

Related News

Danone probiotic patent: 'This strain is able, inter alia, to improve the function of the enteric nervous system (ENS), in particular by increasing the vaso-active intestinal peptide (VIP) levels'

Danone files patent on probiotic to improve enteric nervous system

Researchers have identified a key window for gut bacteria development, suggesting that the disruption of key bacteria types can lead to an increased risk of obesity.

Microbiome 'disruption' in early life linked to obesity in adulthood

Alterations to our gut microbiota may influence the blood-brain barrier - playing a role in protecting the brain, say researchers.

Gut bacteria may play role in brain protection

Probiotic supplementation could be useful in preventing insulin resistance induced by excessive consumption of high-fat foods, according to research funded by Yakult

Probiotic drink may help control insulin resistance: Healthy human research

Microbiome changes linked to onset of type 1 diabetes

Microbiome changes linked to onset of type 1 diabetes

"The NDA Panel notes that new health relationships and outcome measures have been considered in the context of specific applications related to gut and immune function since April 2011.”

EFSA’s live culture: Help agency revise its gut and immune health claim guidance

Probiotics can improve blood pressure: 9-study review

Probiotics can improve blood pressure: 9-study review

Probiotic strains reduce fatty liver condition and has an anti-inflammatory effect in obese Zucker rats, according to research. Photo credit: Alexey Krasavin.

Probiotics linked to liver fat reduction in rat study

Researchers surprised over poor utilisation of inulin as a carbon source by Lactobacilli species given the widespread commercial use of the sugar as a prebiotic.

Synbiotic gut health benefits limited, say researchers

DuPont wins rare European probiotic gut health claims

DuPont wins rare European probiotic gut health claims

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.