Capsaicin (CAP) reduces body weight mainly through activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) cation channel. However, recent evidence indicates that the gut microbiota influences many physiological processes in host and might provoke obesity. This study determined whether the anti-obesity effect of CAP is related to the changes in gut microbiota. C57BL/6 mice were fed either with high-fat diet (HFD) or HFD with CAP (HFD-CAP) for 9 weeks. We observed a significantly reduced weight gain and improved glucose tolerance in HFD-CAP-fed mice compared with HFD-fed mice. 16S rRNA gene sequencing results showed a decrease of phylum Proteobacteria in HFD-CAP-fed mice. In addition, HFD-CAP-fed mice showed a higher abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila, a mucin-degrading bacterium with beneficial effects on host metabolism. Further studies found that CAP directly up-regulates the expression of Mucin 2 gene Muc2 and antimicrobial protein gene Reg3g in the intestine. These data suggest that the anti-obesity effect of CAP is associated with a modest modulation of the gut microbiota.
Keywords: Akkermansia; capsaicin; gut; micriobiome; mucin.