Researchers have discovered the immune system can directly alter populations of certain bacteria in the gut that affect how dietary fats are absorbed
An impressive new study from scientists at the University of Utah has described how an impaired immune system can alter the composition of the gut microbiome resulting in metabolic disease and obesity. Demonstrated in mouse experiments, the research suggests certain species of gut bacteria can prevent the gut from absorbing fat, pointing to exciting potential future anti-obesity therapies.
The research originated from an unexpected observation. Ongoing experiments in mice engineered to lack a gene called MyD88 surprisingly resulted in the animals gaining significant amounts of weight. The specific gene was being studied for its relationship to immune function in the gut. It was discovered that suppressing this gene resulted in lower production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in the gut, but the real mystery was how this gut-related immune mechanism resulted in metabolic disease and obesity.