Role of the Microbiome in Energy Regulation and Metabolism

  • Max Nieuwdorp
    Reprint requests Address requests for reprints to: Max Nieuwdorp, MD, PhD, Department of Internal and Vascular Medicine, AMC-UvA, Meibergdreef 9, Room F4-159.2, 1091 EN Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
    Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Wallenberg Laboratory, Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, University of Göteborg, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Pim W. Gilijamse
    Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Nikhil Pai
    Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

    Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute and Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Lee M. Kaplan
    Lee M. Kaplan, MD, Obesity, Metabolism & Nutrition Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114.
    Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute and Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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Published:February 21, 2014DOI:
      Intestinal microbes regulate metabolic function and energy balance; an altered microbial ecology is believed to contribute to the development of several metabolic diseases. Relative species abundance and metabolic characteristics of the intestinal microbiota change substantially in those who are obese or have other metabolic disorders and in response to ingested nutrients or therapeutic agents. The mechanisms through which the intestinal microbiota and its metabolites affect host homeostasis are just beginning to be understood. We review the relationships between the intestinal microbiota and host metabolism, including energy intake, use, and expenditure, in relation to glucose and lipid metabolism. These associations, along with interactions among the intestinal microbiota, mucus layer, bile acids, and mucosal immune responses, reveal potential mechanisms by which the microbiota affect metabolism. We discuss how controlled studies involving direct perturbations of microbial communities in human and animal models are required to identify effective therapeutic targets in the microbiota.


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      FMT (fecal microbial transplantation), LPS (lipopolysaccharide), RYGB (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass), SCFA (short-chain fatty acid), TMA (trimethylamine), TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide)
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