Diet, host gene composition, and alterations in the intestinal microbiota can contribute to obesity. In microbe-induced obesity, metabolic changes stem from primary perturbation of the microbiota, consequent to modern changes in human biology. Microbiota disruption during early development can result in syndromes of metabolic dysfunction. We focus on the pathways involved in these interactions, particularly related to energy extraction and the role of inflammation in the metabolic phenotypes. Model physiologic systems and perturbations including gastric bypass surgery, pregnancy, and hibernation provide insight into the respective roles of the critical participants.
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