Role of Gut Microbiota in the Aetiology of Obesity: Proposed Mechanisms and Review of the Literature
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The aetiology of obesity has been attributed to several factors (environmental, dietary, lifestyle, host, and genetic factors); however none of these fully explain the increase in the prevalence of obesity worldwide. Gut microbiota located at the interface of host and environment in the gut are a new area of research being explored to explain the excess accumulation of energy in obese individuals and may be a potential target for therapeutic manipulation to reduce host energy storage. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the role of gut microbiota in the aetiology of obesity such as short chain fatty acid production, stimulation of hormones, chronic low-grade inflammation, lipoprotein and bile acid metabolism, and increased endocannabinoid receptor system tone. However, evidence from animal and human studies clearly indicates controversies in determining the cause or effect relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity. Metagenomics based studies indicate that functionality rather than the composition of gut microbiota may be important. Further mechanistic studies controlling for environmental and epigenetic factors are therefore required to help unravel obesity pathogenesis.
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