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Background/objectives: The role of intestinal dysbiosis in obesity-associated systemic inflammation via the cross-talk with peripheral tissues is under debate. Our objective was to decipher the mechanisms by which intervention in the gut ecosystem with a specific Bifidobacterium strain reduces systemic inflammation and improves metabolic dysfunction in obese high-fat diet (HFD) fed mice.

Methods: Adult male wild-type C57BL-6 mice were fed either a standard or HFD, supplemented with placebo or Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765, for 14 weeks. Lymphocytes, macrophages and cytokine/chemokine concentrations were quantified in blood, gut, liver and adipose tissue using bead-based multiplex assays. Biochemical parameters in serum were determined by ELISA and enzymatic assays. Histology was assessed by hematoxylin-eosin staining. Microbiota was analyzed by 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing and quantitative PCR.

Results: B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 reduced obesity-associated systemic inflammation by restoring the balance between regulatory T cells (Tregs) and B lymphocytes and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines of adaptive (IL-17A) and innate (TNF-α) immunity and endotoxemia. In the gut, the bifidobacterial administration partially restored the HFD-induced alterations in microbiota, reducing abundances of Firmicutes and of LPS-producing Proteobacteria, paralleled to reductions in B cells, macrophages, and cytokines (IL-6, MCP-1, TNF-α, IL-17A), which could contribute to systemic effects. In adipose tissue, bifidobacterial administration reduced B cells whereas in liver the treatment increased Tregs and shifted different cytokines (MCP-1 plus ILP-10 in adipose tissue and INF-γ plus IL-1β in liver). In both tissues, the bifidobacteria reduced pro-inflammatory macrophages and, TNF-α and IL-17A concentrations. These effects were accompanied by reductions in body weight gain and in serum cholesterol, triglyceride, glucose and insulin levels and improved oral glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in obese mice.

Conclusions: Here, we provide evidence of the immune cellular mechanisms by which the inflammatory cascade associated with diet-induced obesity is attenuated by the administration of a specific Bifidobacterium strain and that these effects are associated with modulation of gut microbiota structure.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
BifidobacteriumImproved Glucose ToleranceBeneficial
BifidobacteriumImproved Gut Microbiota StructureBeneficial
BifidobacteriumImproved Insulin SensitivityBeneficial
BifidobacteriumImproved Lipid ProfileBeneficial
BifidobacteriumReduced Body WeightBeneficial
BifidobacteriumReduced Inflammation LevelsBeneficial
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