Gut microbiota and metabolic syndrome

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 21;20(43):16079-94. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i43.16079.


Gut microbiota exerts a significant role in the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome, as confirmed by studies conducted both on humans and animal models. Gut microbial composition and functions are strongly influenced by diet. This complex intestinal "superorganism" seems to affect host metabolic balance modulating energy absorption, gut motility, appetite, glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as hepatic fatty storage. An impairment of the fine balance between gut microbes and host's immune system could culminate in the intestinal translocation of bacterial fragments and the development of "metabolic endotoxemia", leading to systemic inflammation and insulin resistance. Diet induced weight-loss and bariatric surgery promote significant changes of gut microbial composition, that seem to affect the success, or the inefficacy, of treatment strategies. Manipulation of gut microbiota through the administration of prebiotics or probiotics could reduce intestinal low grade inflammation and improve gut barrier integrity, thus, ameliorating metabolic balance and promoting weight loss. However, further evidence is needed to better understand their clinical impact and therapeutic use.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Diabetes; Gut microbiota; Metabolic syndrome; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Obesity; Prebiotic; Probiotic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Translocation*
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / immunology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy
  • Microbiota*
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss


  • Prebiotics