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Functional interactions between the gut microbiota and host metabolism


The link between the microbes in the human gut and the development of obesity, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndromes, such as type 2 diabetes, is becoming clearer. However, because of the complexity of the microbial community, the functional connections are less well understood. Studies in both mice and humans are helping to show what effect the gut microbiota has on host metabolism by improving energy yield from food and modulating dietary or the host-derived compounds that alter host metabolic pathways. Through increased knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the interactions between the microbiota and its host, we will be in a better position to develop treatments for metabolic disease.

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Figure 1: Effects of colonic fermentation of dietary fibres.
Figure 2: Features of the gut microbiota that promote obesity and insulin resistance.
Figure 3: Diet-independent and -dependent microbial effects on host metabolism.
Figure 4: Different microbial innate immune mechanisms affect host metabolism in the gut and liver.


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The authors are grateful to A. Hallén for contribution to the artwork and to R. Perkins for reading the manuscript. Work in the authors' laboratory is funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, Torsten Söderberg's Foundation, Ragnar Söderberg's foundation, AFA Insurances, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation, the Swedish heart lung foundation, the NovoNordisk foundation and the Swedish diabetes foundation.

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Correspondence to Fredrik Bäckhed.

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Tremaroli, V., Bäckhed, F. Functional interactions between the gut microbiota and host metabolism. Nature 489, 242–249 (2012).

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