Boosting the levels of specific gut bacteria may have beneficial effects for overweight or obese people, reports a small clinical trial published online this week in Nature Medicine. Akkermansia muciniphila is a species of gut bacteria less abundant in the gut of individuals that are overweight or obese, or that have untreated type 2 diabetes mellitus or inflammatory bowel diseases. This study suggests that it is safe for administration in humans and is associated with improvement in health.
To overcome the worldwide evolution of cardiometabolic diseases, scientists have increasingly focused their attention on interventions targeting the gut microbiota. Previous research identified that A. muciniphila has health-promoting effects in animal models, reducing obesity, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and the accumulation of fat in the liver.
In a proof-of-concept study, Patrice Cani and colleagues report that treatment with live or pasteurized A. muciniphila is safe and well-tolerated in humans. A total of 32 volunteers received either placebo or A. muciniphila as a dietary supplement for 3 months. Only the participants who received the pasteurized bacteria preparation presented with improved insulin sensitivity, reduced levels of insulin, signs of a better gut barrier, and cholesterol in the blood, as compared with individuals who received a placebo. Further research is needed to verify if the beneficial effects of pasteurized A. muciniphila are sustained beyond 3 months and to evaluate efficacy in controlled clinical trials with a larger number of patients, the authors conclude.