A type of gut bacterium known as Akkermansia muciniphila may help prevent obesity and related metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.
A study by experts at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium found that levels of this good gut bacteria are much lower in the intestines of obese humans and mice, as well as those with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers were able to restore normal levels of the bacterium in a group of mice by feeding them live A. muciniphila and prebiotic foods that encourage the growth of gut microbes.
The results were encouraging, with the treated rodents losing weight, improving their fat to body mass ratio, and reducing their resistance to insulin.
Restoring normal levels of A. muciniphila also led to increased intestinal levels of endocannabinoids, signalling molecules that help to control blood glucose levels and defend the gut against harmful microbes.
The researchers, lead by Professor Patrice Cani, said the findings indicate that this type of bacteria may play an important role in gut barrier function, metabolic inflammation and fat storage, adding that it could pave way for new treatments to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
“These results provide a rationale for the development of a treatment that uses this human mucus coloniser for the prevention or treatment of obesity and its associated metabolic disorders,” he commented.
The study was published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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