Glucose metabolism: focus on gut microbiota, the endocannabinoid system and beyond

Diabetes Metab. 2014 Sep;40(4):246-57. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 14.


The gut microbiota is now considered as a key factor in the regulation of numerous metabolic pathways. Growing evidence suggests that cross-talk between gut bacteria and host is achieved through specific metabolites (such as short-chain fatty acids) and molecular patterns of microbial membranes (lipopolysaccharides) that activate host cell receptors (such as toll-like receptors and G-protein-coupled receptors). The endocannabinoid (eCB) system is an important target in the context of obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and inflammation. It has been demonstrated that eCB system activity is involved in the control of glucose and energy metabolism, and can be tuned up or down by specific gut microbes (for example, Akkermansia muciniphila). Numerous studies have also shown that the composition of the gut microbiota differs between obese and/or T2D individuals and those who are lean and non-diabetic. Although some shared taxa are often cited, there is still no clear consensus on the precise microbial composition that triggers metabolic disorders, and causality between specific microbes and the development of such diseases is yet to be proven in humans. Nevertheless, gastric bypass is most likely the most efficient procedure for reducing body weight and treating T2D. Interestingly, several reports have shown that the gut microbiota is profoundly affected by the procedure. It has been suggested that the consistent postoperative increase in certain bacterial groups such as Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Verrucomicrobia (A. muciniphila) may explain its beneficial impact in gnotobiotic mice. Taken together, these data suggest that specific gut microbes modulate important host biological systems that contribute to the control of energy homoeostasis, glucose metabolism and inflammation in obesity and T2D.

Keywords: Akkermansia; Endocannabinoid; Gut microbiota; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism*


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glucose