The bacteria that inhabit us have emerged as factors linking immunity and metabolism. Changes in our microbiota can modify obesity and the immune underpinnings of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. Obesity coincides with a low-level systemic inflammation, which also manifests within metabolic tissues such as adipose tissue and liver. This metabolic inflammation can promote insulin resistance and dysglycaemia. However, the obesity and metabolic disease-related immune responses that are compartmentalized in the intestinal environment do not necessarily parallel the inflammatory status of metabolic tissues that control blood glucose. In fact, a permissive immune environment in the gut can exacerbate metabolic tissue inflammation. Unravelling these discordant immune responses in different parts of the body and establishing a connection between nutrients, immunity and the microbiota in the gut is a complex challenge. Recent evidence positions the relationship between host gut barrier function, intestinal T cell responses and specific microbes at the crossroads of obesity and inflammation in metabolic disease. A key problem to be addressed is understanding how metabolite, immune or bacterial signals from the gut are relayed and transferred into systemic or metabolic tissue inflammation that can impair insulin action preceding Type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: antibiotics; glucose; insulin resistance; metabolic inflammation; microbiome.
© 2015 Authors; published by Portland Press Limited.