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Infect Immun. 2019 Apr 8. pii: IAI.00042-19. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00042-19. [Epub ahead of print]

Suppression of obesity by an intestinal helminth through interactions with intestinal microbiota.

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Department of Parasitology, Graduate School of Medicine, Gunma University, Gunma, Japan.
Department of Parasitology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan


Obesity is increasingly causing lifestyle diseases in developed countries where helminthic infections are rarely seen. Here, we investigated whether an intestinal nematode, Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Hp), has a suppressive role for diet-induced obesity in mice. Infection with Hp suppressed weight gain in obese mice, which was associated with increased uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in adipocytes and a higher serum norepinephrine (NE) concentration. Blocking NE interactions with its receptor on adipocytes resulted in the failure to prevent weight gain and to enhance UCP1 expression in obese mice infected with Hp, indicating that NE is responsible for the protective effects of Hp on obesity. In addition to sympathetic nerve-derived NE, the intestinal microbiota was involved in the increase in NE. Infection with Hp altered the composition of intestinal bacteria, and antibiotic treatment to reduce intestinal bacteria reversed the higher NE concentration, UCP1 expression, and prevention of the weight gain observed after Hp infection. Our data indicate that Hp exerts suppressive roles on obesity through modulation of microbiota that produce NE.

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