Review in Chinese Medical Journal Explores Link Between Intestinal Microbes and Metabolic Health

BEIJING, Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Metabolic syndrome (MetS) constitutes a group of risk factors—including obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension—that increase the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. In recent years, the prevalence of MetS has increased substantially across all age groups, making it a serious public health problem worldwide. While MetS has a known association with genetic factors and poor lifestyle habits, recent studies have indicated its association with the gut microbiota—the rich community of microorganisms inhabiting the gut.

Given the advantages of understanding this MetS–microbiota link from a disease prevention and treatment perspective, a group of researchers comprehensively reviewed a large body of available literature on the association between MetS symptoms and gut microbial communities, further detailing the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Prof. Hui-Juan Yuan, lead author on this project, says, "There are up to 1000 species of bacteria in the human colon, and these communities affect our health. Some of these bacteria produce useful substances like anti-oxidants, whereas others produce toxins." In their review published in the Chinese Medical Journal on 5 April 2020, Prof. Yuan and her team emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy population of good bacteria for ensuring good metabolic health.

Through an overview of the microbial changes associated with several MetS symptoms, they highlight how disruptions in gut microbial communities can lead to impaired immune function, nutrition, and energy metabolism, leading to an undesirable cycle of obesity, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia. Further, they discuss how the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and bacteria-targeting drugs as well as more invasive methods such as metabolic surgery and transplantation of functional "good" microbes can be used to manage MetS. Their review underlines the promise microbiota-targeted strategies hold in solving this public health problem.

While the current studies are encouraging, Prof. Yuan warns that they may not be sufficient for immediate translation into foolproof therapeutic strategies against MetS. "The causal relationship between gut microbial profiles and MetS is quite clear in animals. However, we need more clinical studies to fully understand how the gut microbiota can be manipulated to prevent and treat MetS in humans," she says. Nevertheless, this review lays important groundwork that could help us tackle MetS and the serious diseases it causes.


Title of original paper: Gut microbiota and metabolic syndrome
Journal: Chinese Medical Journal

Peifang Wei

SOURCE Chinese Medical Journal