A probiotic that could help prevent obesity is being examined by investigators at Vanderbilt University. A bacteria that produce a therapeutic compound in the gut inhibit weight gain and insulin resistance as well as other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice. For the study, the researchers genetically modified the bacterial strain E. coli Nissle 1917 to produce a lipid compound called NAPE, which is rapidly converted to NAE. NAE is a compound that reduces both food intake and weight gain, and some evidence suggests that NAPE production may be reduced in persons eating a high-fat diet, according to a news report from Science Daily.

The researchers added the NAPE-producing bacteria to the drinking water of mice eating a high-fat diet for 8 weeks. The Science Daily news report notes that the mice that received the modified bacteria had a significantly lower food intake, body fat, insulin resistance, and fatty liver as compared to mice receiving control bacteria. The protective effects persisted for at least 4 weeks after the NAPE-producing bacteria were removed from the mice’s drinking water, and even after 12 weeks, the treated mice still had much lower body weight and body fat compared to the control mice.

In addition, active bacteria no longer persisted after about 6 weeks. The investigators are currently working on strategies to address regulatory issues related to containing the bacteria, according to Science Daily.

Sean Davies, PhD, senior investigator of the study, says, “Of course it’s hard to speculate from mouse to human. But essentially, we’ve prevented most of the negative consequences of obesity in mice, even though they’re eating a high-fat diet.” Davies adds that regulatory issues should be addressed before moving to human studies, but the findings suggest it may be possible to manipulate the bacterial residents of the gut to treat obesity and other chronic diseases, according to the Science Daily news report.

Photo Appears Courtesy of Joe Howell

Source: Science Daily