A recent study by a group of international researchers has revealed that toxic substances from gut bacteria can interfere with the functioning of fat cells and contribute to obesity. The study’s findings could help in the development of new treatments for excessive and dangerous weight gain in the future.
According to the researchers, these toxic substances, known as endotoxins, are fragments of bacteria that are a normal part of the digestive tract’s ecosystem. However, if they find their way into the bloodstream, they can cause significant damage to the body.
The study aimed to examine the impact of endotoxins on fat cells, specifically adipocytes, in people. Key processes that usually help control the buildup of fat were found to be affected by the material.
Molecular biologist Mark Christian from Nottingham Trent University in the UK, who was part of the research team, explained that gut microbe fragments that enter the bloodstream reduce normal fat cell function and their metabolic activity, which is exacerbated with weight gain, contributing to increased diabetes risk. As we gain weight, our fat stores are less able to limit the damage that gut microbe fragments may cause to fat cells.
The study involved 156 participants, of which 63 were classified as obese, and 26 had undergone bariatric surgery for obesity. Samples from the participants were processed in the lab as the team examined two different types of fat cell, white and brown.
White fat cells, which make up most of our fat storage tissues, store lipids in larger volumes. Brown fat cells, on the other hand, take stores of fat and break them down using their numerous mitochondria, such as when the body is cold and needs warmth. Under the right conditions, the body can convert the lipid-storing white fat cells that behave like lipid-burning brown fat cells.
The analysis showed that endotoxins reduced the body’s ability to turn white fat cells into brown-like fat cells and reduce the amount of stored fat. This browning process is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight, and if scientists can figure out more about how it works and how to control it, then it opens up more potential treatments and therapies for obesity.
Christian stated that endotoxin from the gut reduces fat cell metabolic activity and its ability to become brown-like fat cells that can be useful to help lose weight. The study authors also pointed out that bariatric surgery reduced the levels of endotoxins in the blood, which adds to its value as a weight control method. It should mean that fat cells are more able to function normally.
The study’s findings highlight the importance of the gut and fat as critical interlinked organs that influence metabolic health. Christian said that the work suggests the need to limit endotoxin-induced fat cell damage is even more important when you have excess weight, as the endotoxin contributes to reducing healthy cellular metabolism.
With obesity and its associated health problems becoming more of a problem worldwide, the study’s findings are significant. We need to consider all the factors that play into how our weight is controlled on a biological level.