Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Akkermansia muci... muciniphila and diet induced obesity

It just rolls off the tongue: Akkermansia muciniphila*. 

As we speak A.muciniphila is making headlines across the world based on the study by Amandine Everard and colleagues** (open-access) on what happened to mice who had or were lacking in this stalwart of the gut microbiome.

No need for me to go into great detail about the Everard trial because (a) the paper is open-access and (b) it's already received plenty of coverage as per an entry in Nature (see here) and the National Geographic (see here).

The long-and-short of it (I should perhaps rename this blog with those words) was that A.muciniphila is, as it's name suggests, a bacteria with a connection to mucin; in particular it's love of the stuff. The finding: mice who were obese and diabetic (type 2 diabetes) seemed to have lower levels of A.muciniphila, and "that A. muciniphila treatment reversed high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders, including fat-mass gain, metabolic endotoxemia, adipose tissue inflammation, and insulin resistance". The speculation is whether these mouse findings might, just might turn out to be something truly remarkable for humans presenting with similar symptoms.

But as with everything in life, things are rarely so simple. My first thought when I saw the name A.muciniphila were the intriguing findings reported by Lynne Wang and colleagues*** of lower numbers of A.muciniphila in fecal samples from children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and their siblings. Just in case your interested, I talked about this paper on a post for a sibling blog. So unless we are talking about children with autism subsequently being a greater risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, I would wager that there is more to A.muciniphila than just weight loss and insulin.

Leaky gut anyone?


*  Derrien M. et al. Akkermansia muciniphila gen. nov., sp. nov., a human intestinal mucin-degrading bacterium. IJSEM. 2004; 54: 1469-1476.

** Everard A. et al. Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity. PNAS. May 2013.

*** Wang L. et al. Low Relative Abundances of the Mucolytic Bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila and Bifidobacterium spp. in Feces of Children with Autism. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011; 77:  6718–6721.


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