The Metabolic Response to a Low Amino Acid Diet is Independent of Diet-Induced Shifts in the Composition of the Gut Microbiome

Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 11;9(1):67. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37177-3.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes are increasing in prevalence around the world, and there is a clear need for new and effective strategies to promote metabolic health. A low protein (LP) diet improves metabolic health in both rodents and humans, but the mechanisms that underlie this effect remain unknown. The gut microbiome has recently emerged as a potent regulator of host metabolism and the response to diet. Here, we demonstrate that a LP diet significantly alters the taxonomic composition of the gut microbiome at the phylum level, altering the relative abundance of Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes. Transcriptional profiling suggested that any impact of the microbiome on liver metabolism was likely independent of the microbiome-farnesoid X receptor (FXR) axis. We therefore tested the ability of a LP diet to improve metabolic health following antibiotic ablation of the gut microbiota. We found that a LP diet promotes leanness, increases energy expenditure, and improves glycemic control equally well in mice treated with antibiotics as in untreated control animals. Our results demonstrate that the beneficial effects of a LP diet on glucose homeostasis, energy balance, and body composition are unlikely to be mediated by diet-induced changes in the taxonomic composition of the gut microbiome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biota*
  • Diet / methods*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metabolism*
  • Mice


  • Amino Acids