Talking microbes: When gut bacteria interact with diet and host organs

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Jan;60(1):58-66. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500406. Epub 2015 Aug 26.


Obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions. Evidence suggests that besides dietary habits and physical activity, other environmental factors, such as gut microbes, are recognized as additional partners implicated in the control of energy homeostasis. Studies on the human gut microbiota have shown that the general population can be stratified on the sole basis of three dominant bacteria (i.e., the concept of enterotypes), while some others have suggested categorizing the population according to their microbiome gene richness. Both aspects have been strengthened by recent studies investigating the impact of nutrients (e.g., dietary fibers, fat feeding) and dietary habits (i.e., vegans versus omnivores) of different populations. Using preclinical models, quite a few novel mechanisms have been proposed in these gut microbiota-host interactions, including the role of novel bacteria, the regulation of antimicrobial peptide production, the maintenance of the gut barrier function and intestinal innate immunity. In this review, we discuss several of the aforementioned aspects. Nonetheless, determining the overall mechanisms by which microbes dialogue with host cells will require further investigations before anticipating the development of next-generation nutritional interventions using prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, or even specific nutrients for promoting health benefits.

Keywords: Diabetes; Energy metabolism; Gut microbiota; Innate immunity; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / microbiology
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Symbiosis


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Prebiotics