Many factors are involved in weight gain and metabolic disturbances associated with obesity. The gut microbiota has been of particular interest in recent years, since both human and animal studies have increased our understanding of the delicate symbiosis between the trillions of microbes that reside in the GI tract and the host. It has been suggested that disruption of this mutual tolerance may play a significant role in modulating host physiology during obesity. Environmental influences such as diet, exercise, and early life exposures can significantly impact the composition of the microbiota, and this dysbiosis can in turn lead to increased host adiposity via a number of different mechanisms. The ability of the microbiota to regulate host fat deposition, metabolism, and immune function makes it an attractive target for achieving sustained weight loss.
The authors are supported by Mayo Clinic, University of Illinois Alliance for Technology-Based Healthcare, and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Grant K08 DK-100638 (P.C.K.).
No conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, are declared by the author(s).
- ©2016 Int. Union Physiol. Sci./Am. Physiol. Soc.