Background: Several evidences indicate that gut microbiota is involved in the control of host energy metabolism.
Objective: To evaluate the differences in the composition of gut microbiota in rat models under different nutritional status and physical activity and to identify their associations with serum leptin and ghrelin levels.
Methods: In a case control study, forty male rats were randomly assigned to one of these four experimental groups: ABA group with food restriction and free access to exercise; control ABA group with food restriction and no access to exercise; exercise group with free access to exercise and feed ad libitum and ad libitum group without access to exercise and feed ad libitum. The fecal bacteria composition was investigated by PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time qPCR.
Results: In restricted eaters, we have found a significant increase in the number of Proteobacteria, Bacteroides, Clostridium, Enterococcus, Prevotella and M. smithii and a significant decrease in the quantities of Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, B. coccoides-E. rectale group, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium with respect to unrestricted eaters. Moreover, a significant increase in the number of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and B. coccoides-E. rectale group was observed in exercise group with respect to the rest of groups. We also found a significant positive correlation between the quantity of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and serum leptin levels, and a significant and negative correlation among the number of Clostridium, Bacteroides and Prevotella and serum leptin levels in all experimental groups. Furthermore, serum ghrelin levels were negatively correlated with the quantity of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and B. coccoides-Eubacterium rectale group and positively correlated with the number of Bacteroides and Prevotella.
Conclusions: Nutritional status and physical activity alter gut microbiota composition affecting the diversity and similarity. This study highlights the associations between gut microbiota and appetite-regulating hormones that may be important in terms of satiety and host metabolism.