Recent studies have provided new evidence that alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota--known as dysbiosis--participate in the development of obesity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of chitin-glucan (CG) from a fungal source to modulate both the gut microbiota and glucose and lipid metabolism in high-fat (HF) diet-induced obese mice. Supplementation of the HF diet with fungal CG (10% w/w) induced caecal enlargement with prominent changes in gut microbiota: it restored the number of bacteria from clostridial cluster XIVa including Roseburia spp., which were decreased due to HF feeding. Furthermore, CG treatment significantly decreased HF-induced body weight gain, fat mass development, fasting hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, hepatic triglyceride accumulation and hypercholesterolemia, independently of the caloric intake. All those parameters were negatively correlated with specific bacteria of clostridial cluster XIVa, i.e., Roseburia spp. (Pearson's correlations analysis). In contrast to prebiotics that more specifically target the bifidobacteria species, CG effects on obesity appear to be independent of the incretin glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) production, since portal GLP-1 and proglucagon (its precursor) expression were not modified by the dietary intervention. In conclusion, our findings support the view that chronic consumption of CG has potential beneficial effects with respect to the development of obesity and associated metabolic diabetes and hepatic steatosis, through a mechanism related to the restoration of the composition and/or the activity of gut bacteria, namely, bacteria from clostridial cluster XIVa.
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