Trying to lose weight? Bacteria might be your best friend.
A new study published January 12, 2011 by The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biologies (FASEB) titled ” Colonic mucosal DNA methylation, immune response, and microbiome patterns in Toll-like receptor 2-knockout mice”.
The researchers focused on a receptor in the gut called TLR2, and the connection it has to the gastrointestinal tract and weight loss. Science Daily explains, “Toll-like receptor 2 (Tlr2) — used by mammals (including humans) to recognize resident microbes in the intestines.” According to the study, “Toll-like receptor 2 (Tlr2) is important for its role in bacterial recognition, intestinal inflammation, and obesity-related metabolic changes.” Previous research studies had linked TLR2 deficiency with protection against obesity. However, the deficiency also causes inflammation in the gut similar to ulcerative colitis.
The researchers observed the intestines of mice, comparing the results of those who were TLR2 deficient to those who were not. The TLR2 deficient mice had microbial changes that mimic the intestines of lean animals and humans. Their intestines also contained immunologic changes that resembled the gastrointestinal changes of ulcerative colitis.
According to Science Daily, “This research linking gut bacteria to TLR2 expression opens entirely new doors for weight control solutions, first by cementing TLR2 as a drug target for obesity, and second by providing further evidence that managing gut bacteria may be an important and effective way to control weight. The challenge, of course, is to find a way to tip the scales just enough to keep weight under control without causing serious gastrointestinal problems,” according to Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
Finding a drug that reduces TLR2 to the right amount without causing intestinal inflammation will be the difficult task of future researchers and drug studies. This is a key, since diseases like ulcerative colitis are serious medical conditions, not a simple side effect.
Richard Kellermayer, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “The appropriate exploitation of this remarkable capacity may provide means for the prevention and optimized treatment of common metabolic (such as obesity and diabetes) and gastrointestinal disorders.” Because the studies pinpointed the TLR2 gene as a key in weight control and in gastrointestinal disorders, researchers in both fields have a new area to focus on in terms of drug treatment.
Science Daily: Microbes in our gut regulate genes that control obesity and inflammation
The FASEB Journal: Colonic mucosal DNA methylation, immune response, and microbiome patterns in Toll-like receptor 2-knockout mice