Obesity could be INFECTIOUS: Gut microbe imbalance is catching, study finds
We all know of couples who piled on the pounds once they married and fat friends who seem to encourage each others bad eating habits.
But scientists have now claimed that chubbiness could be catching.
A study from Yale University found that both obesity and liver disease can be triggered by a family of proteins called inflammasomes that alter the balance of microbes in the stomach.
Can obesity be passed on Scientists found the condition was effectively infection in mice (posed picture)
Amazingly, this altered intestinal environment can be passed on – making obesity an infectious condition.
The finding came to light during a study on stomach bacteria in mice.
The Yale team found that a deficiency in
components of two particular inflammasomes in mice resulted in the
development of an altered microbial community associated with increased
This determined the severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and obesity in the mice.
Unhealthy living may not be the only cause of obesity, say Yale University scientists
Senior study author Professor Richard Flavell,said: 'When healthy mice were co-housed with
mice that had altered gut microbes, the healthy mice also developed a
susceptibility for development of liver disease and obesity.'
NAFLD is the result of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders that includes obesity and diabetes, and is the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the western world.
It is estimated that up to 30 million people suffer from NAFLD in the United States alone.
Professor Flavell said the next step will be to extend the research to see if the same effect can be seen in humans.
'We found, in mice, that targeted antibiotic treatment brought the microbial composition back to normal, and thus eased the liver disease. Our hope is that our findings may eventually lead to a treatment for humans.'
The findings expand on earlier Yale research that showed how
similar microbial imbalances caused by the same family of proteins
increases the risk of intestinal diseases such as colitis.
The study has been published in the online version of Nature.