Probiotics, microbiome and metabolic syndrome

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The gut microbiome comprises a complex community of trillions of microorganisms stemming from the three domains of life (the microbiota), their collective meta-genome and their environment. The physiological function of the microbiome is integrated with that of the host so that the gut microbial community is recognized as an additional metabolic organ of the body. For example, the microbiome is responsible for the digestion of dietary polysaccharides leading to the production of short chain fatty acids and other fermentation products that are absorbed and utilized by the host. It has been estimated that short chain fatty acids provide up to 10% of the daily caloric intake.

Diet is a critical determinant and a modifier of the gut microbiome composition and activity. Diet quality in infancy impacts the establishment of the microbiota in early age; different bacterial taxa and different genomic functions are enriched in adult individuals on an agrarian or a western diet; diet modifications, including exposure to a high fat diet, induce rapid changes in the microbiota. Deviation in the composition of the gut microbiota often results in altered metabolism with inevitable repercussions on the microbiome ecosystem as a whole, including its relationship with the host. For example, the microbiome differs in an obesogenic environment, which is accompanied by increased production of short chain fatty acids contributing to the obese phenotype, while translocation of bacteria or their products across the intestinal barrier contribute to a pro-inflammatory state, both of which are components of the metabolic syndrome. Selected dietary interventions in subjects with metabolic syndrome showed promising results in restoring a health-compatible microbiome phenotype.

Probiotics represent a novel opportunity to favorably impact the microbiome and host metabolism. According to the definition of the World Health Organization, probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. A core benefit of probiotics is their capacity to support a health-compatible microbiome. Thus, probiotics offer a dietary strategy to prevent and/or mitigate aspects of the metabolic syndrome. This talk will discuss recent findings from pre-clinical and clinical studies in this very active field of research.

Dr. Elena Comelli, PhD
University of Toronto

Dr. Comelli is an Assistant Professor and holds the Lawson Family Chair in Microbiome Nutrition Research at the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Centre for Child Nutrition and Health at the University of Toronto. Since 2015, Dr Comelli is also Adjunct Professor at the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University.

Elena obtained her PhD from ETH, Zurich, Switzerland with a research on probiotics for oral health, in collaboration with the University of Zurich and Nestlé Research Centre under Dr Thomas Leisinger, Dr Bernhard Guggenheim and Dr Jean-Richard Neeser. Then, she did a postdoc at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, USA, under Dr James Paulson, working in the field of glycomics. In 2003, Elena returned to Switzerland and worked as a project manager at Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne; here, she used functional genomics approaches to investigate the cross-talk between the gut microbiota and the host. In 2007 she joined the University of Toronto.

Elena's group investigates how dietary interventions (including probiotics and vitamin D) in early life can impact health and disease later in life via the gut microbiota, particularly inflammatory conditions. Recently her group and collaborators have proposed the existence of a gut microbiota-bone axis, which she is studying in the context of the metabolic syndrome. Another focus is on gut microbiota regulation of host gene expression including at the post-transcriptional level via microRNA. In 2012, she obtained the American College of Gastroenterology Clinical Research Award to study microRNA dysregulation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Elena is also an Associate Editor for the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

***Original Source: “2016 CNS Thematic Conference", Saturday, January 16, 2016

Length: 36:42

Type: Video

Last Updated: March 17, 2016

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