Obesity is an emerging global health problem and a significant risk factor for developing other diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It seems that imbalances in the microbiota and a decrease in certain intestinal bacteria could play a decisive role in obesity. Recent studies have investigated the role of certain probiotics in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.
The study run by the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV) in Tarragona, published in 2022 in the journal Microbiome, observed the efficacy of a probiotic for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. Administration of the bacterium Odoribacter laneus to obese mice reduced circulating blood succinate levels. Succinate is a metabolite produced by cells in the organism and by bacteria in the intestinal microbiota, and is high in patients with obesity and diabetes; it leads to metabolic deregulation and an inflammatory status. The O. laneus bacterium was found to improve glucose control and inflammation. Another part of the study consisted of analysing succinate levels in 25 patients with severe obesity. This showed a clear association between the functionality of the intestinal microbiota, succinate levels and the metabolic profile of the patients. This research suggests it may be possible to use O. laneus as a probiotic to control glucose and inflammatory status in obesity.
Another study, also recently published in Nature Communications, developed by the National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition (NIBIOHN) in Japan, investigated the beneficial effects of the intestinal bacterium Blautia wexlerae in 217 patients. This bacteria is found in a higher proportion in the Japanese public than in other countries. Obesity and type 2 diabetes were found to be associated with less quantity of B. wexlerae. This bacterium was then orally administered to mice and found to induce metabolic changes with anti-inflammatory effects that decreased both obesity caused by a high-fat diet and type 2 diabetes. They concluded that B. wexlerae has anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to modify lipid metabolism; so it could be used as a probiotic for preventive and therapeutic use in metabolic disorders.
Also, a pilot study published in Nature, carried out at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, provided 32 patients with obesity and insulin resistance with oral supplements of the bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila for 3 months. It was observed that insulin sensitivity was improved, total cholesterol was lowered and weight also decreased slightly.
Thus, there are studies that show the beneficial effects of probiotics. However, more are still needed for farther investigation of the role of intestinal microbiota in the immune system and in the development of diseases, as well as for the effects of modifying them to prevent or treat disease.
information documented by:
Dra. Andrea Aira Gómez, microbiologist and postdoctoral researcher at the Microbiology Unit, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona.