'Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis 2018: Current Practice and Beyond', 9-10 November 2018
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94807

Gut bacteria contributing to weight gain may be inherited

10 November 2014
Appeared in BioNews 779

Our genetic make-up influences the type of bacteria that live in our gut, which in turn may influence how likely we are to be overweight, a twin study has found.

Researchers from Cornell University in the USA examined bacteria in over 1,000 faecal samples taken from 416 sets of twins. They found that levels of some bacteria were more similar in identical twins (who share all their genes) than in non-identical twins.

'Our primary goal was to establish, once and for all, whether there was an effect of host genotype on the composition of the gut microbiome,' said Dr Ruth Ley, associate professor at Cornell and senior study author.

Twins raised in the same households have very similar environments, so differences in bacteria seen in the study are likely to be explained by genetic factors. Study participants were from the TwinsUK registry and had their genomes sequenced at King's College London.

Bacteria from the family Christensenellaceae were the most strongly heritable and higher levels of these microbes were found in leaner people, leading to the hypothesis that Christensenellaceae levels can influence body weight.

Professor Tim Spector, of the Department of Twin Research at King's College who co-authored the study, told New Scientist: 'Everyone has a small amount of it (Christensenella), around one percent, but some people have as much as 10 percent. We think the more you have, the more protected you are against obesity.'

To explore this theory, the researchers exposed mice without gut bacteria to faecal samples from lean and obese people. Mice exposed to samples richer in Christensenella gained less weight than mice receiving samples with little of the bacteria.

Although findings in mice are still preliminary, the study may yet have implications for treatment of obesity. Dr Ley told BBC News: 'Once we have found out how it works in mice, if it seems that we can apply that to humans we can look into developing this as a probiotic to regulate weight.'

The research was published in the journal Cell.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Composition of your gut bacteria may be inherited
New Scientist |  6 November 2014
Genes influence types of microbes in human gut
Cornell University (press release) |  6 November 2014
Gut Microbiome Heritability
The Scientist |  6 November 2014
Human Genetics Shape the Gut Microbiome
Cell |  6 November 2014
Inherited bugs may help weight loss
BBC News |  7 November 2014
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
15 January 2018 - by Purvi Shah 
New research has shown a connection between the potential role of gut bacteria having an active role in gene expression and in turn reducing the risk of cancer...
6 July 2015 - by Paul Waldron 
A new form of obesity and type 2 diabetes that is caused by a mutation in a single gene has been discovered...
26 May 2015 - by Natalie Moska 
Last week I attended a Pint of Science session entitled 'Sugar and Sperm' held at a floating pub on Albert Embankment in London - part of a worldwide festival hosting more than 600 evenings of science in 50 cities and eight countries as far afield as Australia and the USA...
18 May 2015 - by Matthew Thomas 
The communities of microbes living in and on the human body – known as the microbiome – differ enough between people that researchers can use them to tell one person from another in a population of hundreds...
30 September 2013 - by Matthew Thomas 
DNA sequencing of Clostridium difficile samples reveals that the dangerous bacteria, which was previously predominantly transmitted in hospital, is now mostly being caught outside...
14 January 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
Genes play a role in weight gain resulting from diets high in fat and sugar content, say scientists...
18 June 2012 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
The most extensive catalogue of the trillions of microbes that live in and on humans - called the human microbiome - has been published by an international team of scientists...
27 September 2010 - by Matthew Smart 
Scientists from Cancer Research UK, Cambridge have suggested a new model for gut stem cell renewal. It was thought that gut stem cells could only renew themselves via a process of hierarchical cell division...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.