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Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Nov 8;22(5):589-599. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.10.005.

The Human Microbiome and Obesity: Moving beyond Associations.

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NIH, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Department of Medicine, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Obesity, Metabolism, and Nutrition Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address:


Mounting evidence indicates that the gut microbiome responds to diet, antibiotics, and other external stimuli with speed and high precision and in ways that impact a variety of metabolic conditions including obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Despite a decade of research establishing a strong association between the gut microbiota and obesity in humans, a causal relationship and the underlying mechanism remain outstanding. Several technological and methodological limitations in obesity and microbiome research have made it difficult to establish causality in this complex relationship. Additionally, limited collaborative interaction between microbiome and obesity researchers has delayed progress. Here, we discuss the current status of microbiome research as it relates to understanding obesity from the perspective of both communities, outline the underlying research challenges, and suggest directions to advance the obesity-microbiome field as a whole, with particular emphasis on the development of microbiome-targeted therapies for obesity prevention and treatment.


DIO; MTT; animal models; diet-induced obesity; energy balance; energy expenditure; energy intake; microbial metabolites; microbiome; microbiota; microbiota-targeted therapies; obesity

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