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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Feb;62(3). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700721. Epub 2017 Dec 29.

Gut Microbiota Interacts with Markers of Adipose Tissue Browning, Insulin Action and Plasma Acetate in Morbid Obesity.

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Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition, Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Girona (IdIBGi), CIBEROBN (CB06/03/010) and Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), Girona, Spain.
Department of Medicine, Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain.
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), Toulouse, France.
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Division of Computational and Systems Medicine, Imperial College London, South Kensington, London, UK.
Department of Systems Medicine and Center for Atherosclerosis, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.



To examine the potential relationship among gene expression markers of adipose tissue browning, gut microbiota, and insulin sensitivity in humans.


Gut microbiota composition and gene markers of browning are analyzed in subcutaneous (SAT) and visceral (VAT) adipose tissue from morbidly obese subjects (n = 34). Plasma acetate is measured through 1 H NMR and insulin sensitivity using euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp. Subjects with insulin resistance show an increase in the relative abundance (RA) of the phyla Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria while RA of Firmicutes is decreased. In all subjects, Firmicutes RA is negatively correlated with HbA1c and fasting triglycerides, whereas Proteobacteria RA was negatively correlated with insulin sensitivity. Firmicutes RA is positively associated with markers of brown adipocytes (PRDM16, UCP1, and DIO2) in SAT, but not in VAT. Multivariate regression analysis indicates that Firmicutes RA contributes significantly to SAT PRDM16, UCP1, and DIO2 mRNA variance after controlling for age, BMI, HbA1c , or insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, Firmicutes RA, specifically those bacteria belonging to the Ruminococcaceae family, is positively associated with plasma acetate levels, which are also linked to SAT PRDM16 mRNA and insulin sensitivity.


Gut microbiota composition is linked to adipose tissue browning and insulin action in morbidly obese subjects, possibly through circulating acetate.


adipose tissue; insulin sensitivity; metabolome; microbiota; obesity

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