Akkermansia levels linked to lower obesity risk: American Gut Project data

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© TAGSTOCK1 / Getty Images
© TAGSTOCK1 / Getty Images

Related tags: Probiotics, Akkermansia muciniphila, Obesity, Probiota americas

High relative abundance of bacteria in the genus Akkermansia may be associated with a lower risk of obesity, according to a new analysis of data from 10,534 participants in the American Gut Project.

Data published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism​ indicated that the association was not stable over time, with a decline in the strength of the link noticed in older adults.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first large population-based study showing that decreased gut ​Akkermansia was associated with an increased risk of obesity, which is independent of age, sex, smoking, alcohol drinking, diet and country,” ​wrote scientists from Beijing Hospital’s National Center of Gerontology and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

An intriguing genus, but…

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Dr Ralf Jaeger, Managing Member of Wisconsin-based consultancy Increnovo LLC, told NutraIngredients-USA: “Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is linked to obesity and ​Akkermansia bacteria might play a major role in this process by reducing systemic inflammation and the modulation of the glucose metabolism.

“Analysis of more than 10,000 subjects of The America Gut Project showed that decreased amounts of gut ​Akkermansia is associated with an increased risk of obesity. Interestingly, the study found that aging decreased the protective effects of ​Akkermansia against obesity.”

Dr Jaeger added that the first human study of Akkermansia’​s main species, muciniphila​, showed that supplementation with inactivated A. muciniphila​ showed a trend towards reduction of body weight and hip circumference, while supplementation of alive A. muciniphila​ had no effect. That study was published last year in Nature Medicine (Depommier et al., 2019, Vol. 25, pp. 1096–1103)​.

“Stability challenges currently limit the scientific and commercial exploration of this intriguing genus of beneficial bacteria,” ​added Dr Jaeger.

Study details

Probiota Americas 2020

Akkermansia is one of the topics slated for discussion during the upcoming IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas Digital Summit, Nov 10-12. For more information and to register, please click the image below 

The China-based scientists used data from over 10,000 participants in the American Gut Project​, a Citizen Science project launched in 2012 and based out of Rob Knight’s lab at the University of California San Diego.

The median abundance of Akkermansia​ in the cohort was 0.08%, while 11% of the participants were classified as obese.  

In addition, almost 18% of the people had no detectable levels of Akkermansia​. While those with higher relative abundances of Akkermansia​ were more likely to be younger, female, non-smokers, and non-vegetarians.

Crunching the numbers revealed a non-liner association between Akkermansia​ abundance and the risk of obesity, and this association was still seen after the researchers accounted for potential confounding factors such as smoking, alcohol drinking, diet, and country.

“We found that the protective effect of Akkermansia decreased with aging: it kept decreasing from young adults to middle-aged (40 years old). This result indicates that aging may weaken the protective effect which deserves attention in further experiments or clinical trials,” ​wrote the researchers.

Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
2020, Volume 17, Article number: 90, doi: doi: 10.1186/s12986-020-00516-1
“Gut bacteria ​Akkermansia is associated with reduced risk of obesity: evidence from the American Gut Project”
Authors: Q. Zhou, et al.

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