Microbiota and metabolic diseases

Endocrine. 2018 Sep;61(3):357-371. doi: 10.1007/s12020-018-1605-5. Epub 2018 May 2.


The microbiota is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms consisting of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, living in different districts of the human body, such as the gastro-enteric tube, skin, mouth, respiratory system, and the vagina. Over 70% of the microbiota lives in the gastrointestinal tract in a mutually beneficial relationship with its host. The microbiota plays a major role in many metabolic functions, including modulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis, regulation of satiety, production of energy and vitamins. It exerts a role in the regulation of several biochemical and physiological mechanisms through the production of metabolites and substances. In addition, the microbiota has important anti-carcinogenetic and anti-inflammatory actions. There is growing evidence that any modification in the microbiota composition can lead to several diseases, including metabolic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. This is because alterations in the microbiota composition can cause insulin resistance, inflammation, vascular, and metabolic disorders. The causes of the microbiota alterations and the mechanisms by which microbiota modifications can act on the development of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases have been reported. Current and future preventive and therapeutic strategies to prevent these diseases by an adequate modulation of the microbiota have been also discussed.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Metabolic syndrome; Microbiome; Microbiota; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / microbiology*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / microbiology*
  • Microbiota / physiology*