Weight gain in anorexia nervosa does not ameliorate the faecal microbiota, branched chain fatty acid profiles, and gastrointestinal complaints

Sci Rep. 2016 May 27;6:26752. doi: 10.1038/srep26752.


The gut microbiota not only influences host metabolism but can also affect brain function and behaviour through the microbiota-gut-brain axis. To explore the potential role of the intestinal microbiota in anorexia nervosa (AN), we comprehensively investigated the faecal microbiota and short-chain fatty acids in these patients before (n = 55) and after weight gain (n = 44) in comparison to normal-weight participants (NW, n = 55) along with dietary intake and gastrointestinal complaints. We show profound microbial perturbations in AN patients as compared to NW participants, with higher levels of mucin-degraders and members of Clostridium clusters I, XI and XVIII and reduced levels of the butyrate-producing Roseburia spp. Branched-chain fatty acid concentrations, being markers for protein fermentation, were elevated. Distinct perturbations in microbial community compositions were observed for individual restrictive and binge/purging AN-subtypes. Upon weight gain, microbial richness increased, however perturbations in intestinal microbiota and short chain fatty acid profiles in addition to several gastrointestinal symptoms did not recover. These insights provide new leads to modulate the intestinal microbiota in order to improve the outcomes of the standard therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa / metabolism*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / microbiology*
  • Diet
  • Eating
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile

Associated data

  • DRKS/DRKS00005124