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Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 7;8(1):13426. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31695-w.

Sex differences in lipid metabolism are affected by presence of the gut microbiota.

Author information

1
Danone Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands. annemarie.baars@danone.com.
2
Danone Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Pediatrics, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
4
Microbial Physiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
5
Top Institute Food and Nutrition, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
6
Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
7
Nutrition, Metabolism & Genomics Group, Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
8
Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
9
Department Pathology and Medical biology, section Immunoendocrinology, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Physiological processes are differentially regulated between men and women. Sex and gut microbiota have each been demonstrated to regulate host metabolism, but it is unclear whether both factors are interdependent. Here, we determined to what extent sex-specific differences in lipid metabolism are modulated via the gut microbiota. While male and female Conv mice showed predominantly differential expression in gene sets related to lipid metabolism, GF mice showed differences in gene sets linked to gut health and inflammatory responses. This suggests that presence of the gut microbiota is important in sex-specific regulation of lipid metabolism. Further, we explored the role of bile acids as mediators in the cross-talk between the microbiome and host lipid metabolism. Females showed higher total and primary serum bile acids levels, independent of presence of microbiota. However, in presence of microbiota we observed higher secondary serum bile acid levels in females compared to males. Analysis of microbiota composition displayed sex-specific differences in Conv mice. Therefore, our data suggests that bile acids possibly play a role in the crosstalk between the microbiome and sex-specific regulation of lipid metabolism. In conclusion, our data shows that presence of the gut microbiota contributes to sex differences in lipid metabolism.

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