Obesity and microbiota: an example of an intricate relationship

Type Article

Journal Article


S. Duranti; C. Ferrario; D. van Sinderen; M. Ventura; F. Turroni

Year of publication



Genes Nutr







It is widely accepted that metabolic disorders, such as obesity, are closely linked to lifestyle and diet. Recently, the central role played by the intestinal microbiota in human metabolism and in progression of metabolic disorders has become evident. In this context, animal studies and human trials have demonstrated that alterations of the intestinal microbiota towards enhanced energy harvest is a characteristic of the obese phenotype. Many publications, involving both animal studies and clinical trials, have reported on the successful exploitation of probiotics and prebiotics to treat obesity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these observed anti-obesity effects of probiotics and prebiotic therapies are still obscure. The aim of this mini-review is to discuss the intricate relationship of various factors, including diet, gut microbiota, and host genetics, that are believed to impact on the development of obesity, and to understand how modulation of the gut microbiota with dietary intervention may alleviate obesity-associated symptoms.