Dietary Uncoupling of Gut Microbiota and Energy Harvesting from Obesity and Glucose Tolerance in Mice

Cell Rep. 2017 Nov 7;21(6):1521-1533. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.10.056.


Evidence suggests that altered gut microbiota composition may be involved in the development of obesity. Studies using mice made obese with refined high-fat diets have supported this; however, these have commonly used chow as a control diet, introducing confounding factors from differences in dietary composition that have a key role in shaping microbiota composition. We compared the effects of feeding a refined high-fat diet with those of feeding either a refined low-fat diet or a chow diet on gut microbiota composition and host physiology. Feeding both refined low- or high-fat diets resulted in large alterations in the gut microbiota composition, intestinal fermentation, and gut morphology, compared to a chow diet. However, body weight, body fat, and glucose intolerance only increased in mice fed the refined high-fat diet. The choice of control diet can dissociate broad changes in microbiota composition from obesity, raising questions about the previously proposed relationship between gut microbiota and obesity.

Keywords: SCFA; chow; energy harvest; glucose intolerance; gut; high-fat diet; microbiome; microbiota; obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteroidetes / genetics
  • Bacteroidetes / growth & development
  • Bacteroidetes / isolation & purification
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Firmicutes / genetics
  • Firmicutes / growth & development
  • Firmicutes / isolation & purification
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glucose Intolerance / microbiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / pathology
  • Ileum / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S