21 Dec Novel Bacteria May Mitigate Effects of Obesity
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Harriët Schellekens MSc PhD
Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience,
and APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre
University College Cork, Cork, IRELAND.
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: There has been an increased emphasis on gut microbiota-targeted therapeutics for the amelioration of obesity. Recent studies have identified several probiotic strains with different anti-obesity effects, including members of the genus Bifidobacterium, but the exact mechanisms of action are still lacking.
Moreover, positive effects in animal studies often do not translate in human studies.
The APC Microbiome Ireland has set up a “culture-to-product” platform, a well catalogued and quality controlled collection of bacteria with potential biofunctional activities. In my laboratory, I have developed a state-of the art “bug-to-drug” screening approach, using high-throughput biochemical and cellular assays, to fully characterize bacteria and identify the most promising bacterial strains with specific desirable probiotic and functional properties. This careful in vitro screening of APC’s strains (or customer strains) is designed to identify the most potent candidates that can impact on host physiology and overall gut-brain axis function, e.g. by producing microbial metabolites or neuroactives, altering gut-barrier function, reducing inflammation, or modifying G-protein coupled receptors. This comprehensive screening approach facilitates the precise selection and prediction of the best strains that are likely to yield a specific positive health effects in subsequent animal and human studies, based on their in vitro probiotic and functional properties.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? How did you discover that this bacteria has this effect?
Response: In the present study, we demonstrate that a novel isolated B. longum APC1472 strain, which was previously shown to attenuate ghrelinergic signalling (using the screening platform in my laboratory), reduces body weight gain, fat depot size, glucose tolerance and leptin levels in a preclinical mouse model of diet-induced obesity. When the B. longum APC1472 strain was investigated in a human cohort of healthy overweight and obese individuals, there was no change in the primary outcome of BMI, but a positive effect on the secondary outcome of fasting blood glucose levels. When we looked at only the obese individuals the B. longum APC1472 was able to normalize active ghrelin levels and the cortisol awakening response, which are both dysregulated in obesity.
This strain is a great example of a success story using the APC Microbiome Screening Platform, starting with the identification of a novel strain and a putative mechanism of action, followed by proof of principle in and animal study and a functional effect in a human target population. This highlights the translational value of this novel Bifidobacterium longum species, B. longum APC1472, from a preclinical mouse model to a human intervention study, where this probiotic positively impacts markers of obesity, which may be linked to the ghrelinergic effects previously demonstrated.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: It has been known for a long time that stress and obesity are linked. While stress can suppress appetite in the short-term, chronic stress is known to increase cortisol which increases appetite; hence the phrase “stress eating”. The hormone ghrelin signals hunger and is increased by stress. This research shows that B.Longum APC1472 plays an important role in keeping our hunger hormone, ghrelin, in check, and lowers our stress hormone, cortisol. The findings from this study highlight the promising potential of B. longum APC1472 to be developed as a valuable probiotic supplement to reduce blood glucose, which is important in the development of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and as a potential probiotic in conditions of stress. The strain could be developed as a supplement or medical food.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We are very excited by the potential applications of this strain for both metabolic and mental health. This study shows a positive effect of B. longum APC1472 on fasting blood glucose from a preclinical mouse model of obesity to a human intervention study in otherwise healthy overweight and obese individuals. This highlights the promising potential of B. longum APC1472 to be developed as a valuable probiotic supplement to reduce blood glucose, which is important in the development of conditions such as type 2 diabetes. The fact that it also reduces stress hormones (corticosterone in mice and cortisol in the humans) suggests this strain may have potential applications to reduce stress. This warrants further investigation into B. longum APC1472 and its potential use as a psychobiotic to improve mental health. Psychobiotics, a term coined in our research group, are defined as a class of probiotic that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness (Dinan et al. 2013).
Any disclosures? The study was part funded by SFI Research Centre grant to APC Microbiome Ireland and a targeted project funded by Cremo SA. The B. longum APC1472 strain is patented (PCT/EP2018/072988).
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