Overweight, chronic inflammation: an intestinal bacterium in question

Bilophila wadsworthia. This name probably means nothing to you. In a healthy individual, it represents less than 0.1% of the bacteria in the intestinal microbiota. But in individuals whose diet is rich in fat, it is more abundant and deteriorates the parameters of the metabolic syndrome.

Changes in the composition of the microbiota are commonly associated with metabolic dysfunctions, although the mechanisms underlying this relationship are still not well understood. A team of researchers from Inra, AP-HP (Assistance Hôpitaux Publique de Paris), Inserm and the University of Sorbonne have demonstrated, in a preclinical in vivo study, that metabolic disorders linked to a high-fat diet are aggravated by the proliferation of a pro-inflammatory intestinal bacterium, Bilophila wadsworthia, which contributes to the deterioration of the intestinal barrier.

A gut bacteria that promotes inflammation, overweight and obesity

Indeed, the results of this study showed that a diet high in fat creates conditions conducive to the proliferation of intestinal bacteria, such as B. wadsworthia. This multiplication is accompanied by an aggravation of the various parameters which characterize the metabolic syndrome and favor obesity. For example, impaired glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity or increased blood and liver lipids.

It is also associated with intestinal inflammation and dysfunction of the intestinal barrier, as well as disturbances in the metabolism of bile salts, favorable to the development of this bacterium.

A probiotic can counteract its negative effect

The scientists then explored the therapeutic potential of a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, revealing the interest of a specific strain, CNCM I-3690, which:

– limits the proliferation of B. wadsworthia,

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– protects the intestinal barrier from its pro-inflammatory effects,

– and improves glucose regulation parameters.

These results, if confirmed in humans, open the way to the preventive and therapeutic use of probiotic strains, which can reduce the spectrum of inflammatory and metabolic diseases, by restoring certain functions associated with a balanced intestinal microbiota.

Jane M. Natividad: Bilophila wadsworthia aggravates high fat diet induced metabolic dysfunctions in mice. NatureCommunications


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