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Gut 61:474-475 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301918
  • Commentary

Too much fat for the gut's microbiota

  1. Julian R Marchesi2
  1. 1Christian Doppler Research Laboratory for Gut Inflammation, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  2. 2School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julian R Marchesi, School of Biosciences, Museum Avenue, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK; marchesijr{at}cardiff.ac.uk

The gastrointestinal tract contains a diverse microbial community which is predominantly bacterial and which we refer to as the gut microbiota. For example, the human gut microbiota is assumed to consist of at least 1014 bacteria, composed of more than 1000 species with more than 150 species per individual. Apart from contributing substantial beneficial functions to the host (eg, digestion of indigestible plant polysaccharides and production of short chain fatty acids), the potential of the microbiota to interact with the host and modulate its physiology seems to be tremendous. In addition, many ‘environmental’ and not yet identified factors might be able to affect and modulate the gut's microbial composition and functions, with implications for the host.

Recent evidence has linked the development of metabolic dysfunction with our bacteriota, and studies in animals have alluded to the fact that certain microbiotal factors may be associated with the development of diabetes.1 Whether metabolic dysfunction might potentially lead to or be preceded by a change in the microbiota has not yet been determined. However, in their paper published in Gut, Serino and colleagues2 address this issue by using a …