Gut microbiota can transfer fiber characteristics and lipid metabolic profiles of skeletal muscle from pigs to germ-free mice

Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 22;6:31786. doi: 10.1038/srep31786.


Obesity causes changes in microbiota composition, and an altered gut microbiota can transfer obesity-associated phenotypes from donors to recipients. Obese Rongchang pigs (RP) exhibited distinct fiber characteristics and lipid metabolic profiles in their muscle compared with lean Yorkshire pigs (YP). However, whether RP have a different gut microbiota than YP and whether there is a relationship between the microbiota and muscle properties are poorly understood. The present study was conducted to test whether the muscle properties can be transferred from pigs to germ-free (GF) mice. High-throughput pyrosequencing confirms the presence of distinct core microbiota between pig breeds, with alterations in taxonomic distribution and modulations in β diversity. RP displayed a significant higher Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio and apparent genera differences compared with YP. Transplanting the porcine microbiota into GF mice replicated the phenotypes of the donors. RP and their GF mouse recipients exhibited a higher body fat mass, a higher slow-contracting fiber proportion, a decreased fiber size and fast IIb fiber percentage, and enhanced lipogenesis in the gastrocnemius muscle. Furthermore, the gut microbiota composition of colonized mice shared high similarity with their donor pigs. Taken together, the gut microbiota of obese pigs intrinsically influences skeletal muscle development and the lipid metabolic profiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteroidetes / physiology
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Firmicutes / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Swine


  • Dietary Fiber