The Effect of Diet and Exercise on Intestinal Integrity and Microbial Diversity in Mice

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 8;11(3):e0150502. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150502. eCollection 2016.


Background: The gut microbiota is now known to play an important role contributing to inflammatory-based chronic diseases. This study examined intestinal integrity/inflammation and the gut microbial communities in sedentary and exercising mice presented with a normal or high-fat diet.

Methods: Thirty-six, 6-week old C57BL/6NTac male mice were fed a normal or high-fat diet for 12-weeks and randomly assigned to exercise or sedentary groups. After 12 weeks animals were sacrificed and duodenum/ileum tissues were fixed for immunohistochemistry for occludin, E-cadherin, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The bacterial communities were assayed in fecal samples using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) analysis and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons.

Results: Lean sedentary (LS) mice presented normal histologic villi while obese sedentary (OS) mice had similar villi height with more than twice the width of the LS animals. Both lean (LX) and obese exercise (OX) mice duodenum and ileum were histologically normal. COX-2 expression was the greatest in the OS group, followed by LS, LX and OX. The TRFLP and pyrosequencing indicated that members of the Clostridiales order were predominant in all diet groups. Specific phylotypes were observed with exercise, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzi, Clostridium spp., and Allobaculum spp.

Conclusion: These data suggest that exercise has a strong influence on gut integrity and host microbiome which points to the necessity for more mechanistic studies of the interactions between specific bacteria in the gut and its host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Biodiversity*
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Weight
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Mice
  • Microbiota*
  • Occludin / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Cadherins
  • Occludin
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S