Acetate mediates a microbiome-brain-β-cell axis to promote metabolic syndrome

Nature. 2016 Jun 9;534(7606):213-7. doi: 10.1038/nature18309.


Obesity, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome are associated with changes to the gut microbiota; however, the mechanism by which modifications to the gut microbiota might lead to these conditions is unknown. Here we show that increased production of acetate by an altered gut microbiota in rodents leads to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, promotes increased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, increased ghrelin secretion, hyperphagia, obesity and related sequelae. Together, these findings identify increased acetate production resulting from a nutrient-gut microbiota interaction and subsequent parasympathetic activation as possible therapeutic targets for obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hyperphagia / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Rats


  • Acetates
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Glucose