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Ann Nutr Metab. 2013;63 Suppl 2:17-26. doi: 10.1159/000354896. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Reshaping the gut microbiota at an early age: functional impact on obesity risk?

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.


Overweight and obesity can currently be considered a major threat to human health and well-being. Recent scientific advances point to an aberrant compositional development of the gut microbiota and low-grade inflammation as contributing factors, in conjunction with excessive energy intake. A high-fat/energy diet alters the gut microbiota composition, which reciprocally engenders excessive energy harvesting and storage. Further, microbial imbalance increases gut permeability, leading to metabolic endotoxemia, inflammation and insulin resistance. Local intestinal immunologic homeostasis is achieved by tolerogenic immune responses to microbial antigens. In the context of amelioration of insulin sensitivity and decreased adiposity, the potential of gut microbiota modulation with specific probiotics and prebiotics lies in the normalization of aberrant microbiota, improved gut barrier function and creation of an anti-inflammatory milieu. This would suggest a role for probiotic/prebiotic interventions in the search for preventive and therapeutic applications in weight management.

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