Background: Recent reports suggest that the metabolic activity of the gut microbiota may contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity and hepatic steatosis.
Objective: The objective was to determine whether the fat composition of host tissues might be influenced by oral administration of commensal bifidobacteria previously shown by us to produce bioactive isomers of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Design: Murine trials were conducted in which linoleic acid-supplemented diets were fed with or without Bifidobacterium breve NCIMB 702258 (daily dose of 10(9) microorganisms) to healthy BALB/c mice and to severe combined immunodeficient mice for 8-10 wk. To ensure that the observations were not peculiar to mice, a similar trial was conducted in weanling pigs over 21 d. Tissue fatty acid composition was assessed by gas-liquid chromatography.
Results: In comparison with controls, there was an increase in cis-9, trans-11 CLA in the livers of the mice and pigs after feeding with linoleic acid in combination with B. breve NCIMB 702258 (P < 0.05). In addition, an altered profile of polyunsaturated fatty acid composition was observed, including higher concentrations of the omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in adipose tissue (P < 0.05). These changes were associated with reductions in the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: These results are consistent with the concept that the metabolome is a composite of host and microbe metabolic activity and that the influence of the microbiota on host fatty acid composition can be manipulated by oral administration of CLA-producing microorganisms.