Skip to main content Accessibility help

Gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic disorders

  • Yolanda Sanz (a1), Arlette Santacruz (a1) and Paola Gauffin (a1)


Obesity is a major public health issue as it is causally related to several chronic disorders, including type-2 diabetes, CVD and cancer. Novel research shows that the gut microbiota is involved in obesity and metabolic disorders, revealing that obese animal and human subjects have alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota compared to their lean counterparts. Moreover, transplantation of the microbiota of either obese or lean mice influences body weight in the germ-free recipient mice, suggesting that the gut ecosystem is a relevant target for weight management. Indigenous gut microbes may regulate body weight by influencing the host's metabolic, neuroendocrine and immune functions. The intestinal microbiota, as a whole, provides additional metabolic functions and regulates the host's gene expression, improving the ability to extract and store energy from the diet and contributing to body-weight gain. Imbalances in the gut microbiota and increases in plasma lipopolysaccharide may also act as inflammatory factors related to the development of atherosclerosis, insulin resistance and body-weight gain. In contrast, specific probiotics, prebiotics and related metabolites might exert beneficial effects on lipid and glucose metabolism, the production of satiety peptides and the inflammatory tone related to obesity and associated metabolic disorders. This knowledge is contributing to our understanding of how environmental factors influence obesity and associated diseases, providing new opportunities to design improved dietary intervention strategies to manage these disorders.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic disorders
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic disorders
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic disorders
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Yolanda Sanz, fax +34 96 363 63 01, email


Hide All
1.James, WP (2008) The epidemiology of obesity: the size of the problem. J Intern Med 263, 336352.
2.Zeyda, M & Stulnig, TM (2007) Adipose tissue macrophages. Immunol Lett 112, 6167.
3.Xu, J, Mahowald, MA, Ley, RE et al. (2007) Evolution of symbiotic bacteria in the distal human intestine. PLoS Biol 19, e156.
4.Gill, SR, Pop, M, Deboy, RT et al. (2006) Metagenomic analysis of the human distal gut microbiome. Science 312, 13551359.
5.Turnbaugh, PJ, Ley, RE, Hamady, M et al. (2007) The human microbiome project. Nature 449, 804810.
6.Turnbaugh, PJ, Hamady, M, Yatsunenko, T et al. (2009) A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature 457, 480484.
7.Waldram, A, Holmes, E, Wang, Y et al. (2009) Top-down systems biology modelling of host metabotype-microbiome associations in obese rodents. J Proteome Res 8, 23612375.
8.Ley, RE, Bäckhed, F, Turnbaugh, P et al. (2005) Obesity alters gut microbial ecology. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102, 1107011075.
9.Samuel, BS, Hansen, EE, Manchester, JK et al. (2007) Genomic and metabolic adaptations of Methanobrevibacter smithii to the human gut. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104, 1064310648.
10.Turnbaugh, PJ, Bäckhed, F, Fulton, L et al. (2008) Diet-induced obesity is linked to marked but reversible alterations in the mouse distal gut microbiome. Cell Host Microbe 17, 213223.
11.Cani, PD, Amar, J, Iglesias, MA et al. (2007) Metabolic endotoxemia initiates obesity and insulin resistance. Diabetes 56, 17611772.
12.Ley, RE, Turnbaugh, PJ, Klein, S et al. . (2006) Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature 444, 10221023.
13.Nadal, I, Santacruz, A, Marcos, A et al. . (2008) Shifts in clostridia, bacteroides and immunoglobulin-coating fecal bacteria associated with weight loss in obese adolescents. Int J Obes 33, 758767.
14.Santacruz, A, Marcos, A, Wärnberg, J et al. (2009) Interplay between weight loss and gut microbiata composition in overweight adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring) 17, 19061915.
15.Kalliomäki, M, Collado, MC, Salminen, S et al. (2008) Early differences in fecal microbiota composition in children may predict overweight. Am J Clin Nutr 87, 534538.
16.Turnbaugh, PJ, Ley, RE, Mahowald, MA et al. (2006) An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature 444, 10271031.
17.Cani, PD, Neyrinck, AM, Fava, F et al. (2007) Selective increases of bifidobacteria in gut microflora improve high-fat-diet-induced diabetes in mice through a mechanism associated with endotoxaemia. Diabetologia 50, 23742383.
18.Ley, RE, Lozupone, CA, Hamady, M et al. (2008) Worlds within worlds: evolution of the vertebrate gut microbiota. Nat Rev Microbiol 6, 776788.
19.Hooper, LV, Midtvedt, T & Gordon, JI (2002) How host-microbial interactions shape the nutrient environment of the mammalian intestine. Annu Rev Nutr 22, 283307.
20.Bäckhed, F, Ding, H, Wang, T et al. (2004) The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101, 1571815723.
21.Flint, HJ, Bayer, EA, Rincon, MT et al. (2008) Polysaccharide utilization by gut bacteria: potential for new insights from genomic analysis. Nat Rev Microbiol 6, 121131.
22.Ridlon, JM, Kang, DJ & Hylemon, PB (2006) Bile salt biotransformations by human intestinal bacteria. J Lip Res 47, 241259.
23.Norin, E (2008) Intestinal cholesterol conversion in adults and elderly from four different European countries. Ann Nutr Metab 52, 1214.
24.Hooper, LV, Wong, MH, Thelin, A et al. (2001) Molecular analysis of commensal host-microbial relationships in the intestine. Science 291, 881884.
25.Bäckhed, F, Manchester, JK, Semenkovich, CF et al. (2007) Mechanisms underlying the resistance to diet-induced obesity in germ-free mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104, 979984.
26.Matarese, G & La Cava, A (2004) The intricate interface between immune system and metabolism. Trends Immunol 25, 193200.
27.Samuel, BS, Shaito, A, Motoike, T et al. (2008) Effects of the gut microbiota on host adiposity are modulated by the short-chain fatty-acid binding G protein-coupled receptor, Gpr41. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105, 1676716772.
28.Fetissov, SO, Hamze-Sinno, M, Coëffier, M et al. (2008) Autoantibodies against appetite-regulating peptide hormones and neuropeptides: putative modulation by gut microflora. Nutrition 24, 348359.
29.Bercik, P, Verdú, EF, Foster, JA et al. (2009) Role of gut-brain axis in persistent abnormal feeding behavior in mice following eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 296, R587R594.
30.Verdu, EF (2009) Probiotics effects on gastrointestinal function: beyond the gut? Neurogastroenterol Motil 21, 477480.
31.Verdu, EF, Bercik, P, Huang, XX et al. (2008) The role of luminal factors in the recovery of gastric function and behavioral changes after chronic Helicobacter pylori infection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 295, G664G670.
32.Bailey, MT, Lubach, GR & Coe, CL (2004) Prenatal stress alters bacterial colonization of the gut in infant monkeys. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 38, 414421.
33.O'Mahony, SM, Marchesi, JR, Scully, P et al. (2009) Early life stress alters behavior, immunity, and microbiota in rats: implications for irritable bowel syndrome and psychiatric illnesses. Biol Psychiatry 65, 263267.
34.Sudo, N, Chida, Y, Aiba, Y et al. (2004) Postnatal microbial colonization programs the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal system for stress response in mice. J Physiol 558, 263275.
35.Simonyte, K, Rask, E, Näslund, I et al. (2009) Obesity is accompanied by disturbances in peripheral glucocorticoid metabolism and changes in FA recycling. Obesity (Silver Spring) 17, 19821987.
36.Cani, PD & Delzenne, NM (2009) Interplay between obesity and associated metabolic disorders: new insights into the gut microbiota. Curr Opin Pharmacol 9, 737743.
37.Lajunen, T, Vikatmaa, P, Bloigu, A et al. (2008) Chlamydial LPS and high-sensitivity CRP levels in serum are associated with an elevated body mass index in patients with cardiovascular disease. Innate Immun 14, 375382.
38.Erridge, C, Attina, T, Spickett, CM et al. (2007) A high-fat meal induces low-grade endotoxemia: evidence of a novel mechanism of postprandial inflammation. Am J Clin Nutr 86, 12861292.
39.Reigstad, CS, Lundén, GO, Felin, J et al. (2009) Regulation of serum amyloid A3 (SAA3) in mouse colonic epithelium and adipose tissue by the intestinal microbiota. PLoS One 4, e5842.
40.Sato, M, Uzu, K, Yoshida, T et al. (2008) Effects of milk fermented by Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 on adipocyte size in rats. Br J Nutr 99, 10131017.
41.Yadav, H, Jain, S & Sinhá, PR (2007) Antidiabetic effect of probiotic dahi containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei in high fructose fed rats. Nutrition 23, 6268.
42.Yadav, H, Jain, S & Sinha, PR (2008) Oral administration of dahi containing probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei delayed the progression of streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats. J Dairy Res 75, 189195.
43.Martin, FP, Wang, Y, Sprenger, N et al. (2008a) Probiotic modulation of symbiotic gut microbial–host metabolic interactions in a humanized microbiome mouse model. Mol Syst Biol 4, 157.
44.Martin, FP, Sprenger, N, Yap, IK et al. (2009) Panorganismal gut microbiome-host metabolic crosstalk. J Proteome Res 8, 20902105.
45.Ma, X, Hua, J & Li, Z (2008) Probiotics improve high fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance by increasing hepatic NKT cells. J Hepatol 49, 821830.
46.Cani, PD, Daubioul, CA, Reusens, B et al. (2005) Involvement of endogenous glucagon-like peptide-1(7–36) amide on glycaemia-lowering effect of oligofructose in streptozotocin-treated rats. J Endocrinol 185, 457465.
47.Delmée, E, Cani, PD, Gual, G et al. (2006) Relation between colonic proglucagon expression and metabolic response to oligofructose in high fat diet-fed mice. Life Sci 79, 10071013.
48.Cani, PD, Possemiers, S, Van de Wiele, T et al. . (2009) Changes in gut microbiota control inflammation in obese mice through a mechanism involving GLP-2-driven improvement of gut permeability. Gut 58, 10911103.
49.Bukowska, H, Pieczul-Mróz, J, Jastrzebska, M et al. (1998) Decrease in fibrinogen and LDL-cholesterol levels upon supplementation of diet with Lactobacillus plantarum in subjects with moderately elevated cholesterol. Atherosclerosis 137, 437438.
50.Kiessling, G, Schneider, J & Jahreis, G (2002) Long-term consumption of fermented dairy products over 6 months increases HDL cholesterol. Eur J Clin Nutr 56, 843849.
51.Simons, LA, Amansec, SG & Conway, P (2006) Effect of Lactobacillus fermentum on serum lipids in subjects with elevated serum cholesterol. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 16, 531535.
52.Greany, KA, Bonorden, MJ, Hamilton-Reeves, JM et al. . (2008) Probiotic capsules do not lower plasma lipids in young women and men. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 232237.
53.Laitinen, K, Poussa, T & Isolauri, E (2008) The Nutrition, Allergy, Mucosal Immunology and Intestinal Microbiota Group. Probiotics and dietary counselling contribute to glucose regulation during and after pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr 19, 19.
54.Reimer, RA & Russell, JC (2008) Glucose tolerance, lipids, and GLP-1 secretion in JCR:LA-cp rats fed a high protein fiber diet. Obesity 16, 4046.
55.Letexier, D, Diraison, F & Beylot, M (2003) Addition of inulin to a moderately high-carbohydrate diet reduces hepatic lipogenesis and plasma triacylglycerol concentrations in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 77, 559564.
56.Giacco, R, Clemente, G, Luongo, D et al. (2004) Effects of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on glucose and lipid metabolism in mild hypercholesterolaemic individuals. Clin Nutr 23, 331340.
57.Alliet, P, Scholtens, P, Raes, M et al. (2007) Effect of prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharide, long-chain fructo-oligosaccharide infant formula on serum cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels. Nutrition 23, 719723.
58.Luo, J, Rizkalla, SW, Alamowitch, C et al. (1996) Chronic consumption of short-chain fructooligosaccharides by healthy subjects decreased basal hepatic glucosa production but had no effect on insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 63, 939945.
59.Luo, J, Van Yperselle, M, Rizkalla, SW et al. (2000) Chronic consumption of short-chain fructooligosaccharides does not affect basal hepatic glucose production or insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. J Nutr 130, 15721577.
60.Cani, PD, Joly, E, Horsmans, Y et al. (2006) Oligofructose promotes satiety in healthy human: a pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr 60, 567572.
61.Abrams, SA, Griffin, IJ, Hawthorne, KM et al. (2007) Effect of prebiotic supplementation and calcium intake on body mass index. J Pediat 151, 293298.
62.Martin, FP, Wang, Y, Sprenger, N et al. (2008b) Top-down systems biology integration of conditional prebiotic modulated transgenomic interactions in a humanized microbiome mouse model. Mol Syst Biol 4, 205.
63.Naruszewicz, M, Johansson, ML, Zapolska-Downar, D et al. . (2002) Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v on cardiovascular disease risk factors in smokers. Am J Clin Nutr 76, 12491255.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed