Gut microbiome and its role in obesity and insulin resistance

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020 Feb;1461(1):37-52. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14107. Epub 2019 May 14.


Obesity is a complex metabolic disease caused, in part, by the interaction between an individual's genetics, metabolism, and environment. Emerging evidence supports the role of gut microbiota in mediating the interaction between the host and environment by extracting energy from food otherwise indigestible by the host and producing metabolites and cytokines that affect host metabolism. Furthermore, gut microbial imbalance or dysbiosis has been shown in metabolic diseases including obesity, and recent studies are beginning to unravel the mechanisms involved. The gut microbiota affects host metabolism and obesity through several pathways involving gut barrier integrity, production of metabolites affecting satiety and insulin resistance, epigenetic factors, and metabolism of bile acids and subsequent changes in metabolic signaling. While the field of gut microbiome and its role in obesity is early in its stage of development, it holds a promising future in providing us with novel therapeutic targets that may restore the gut microbiome to a healthy state and help in the prevention and treatment of obesity.

Keywords: gut microbiome; insulin resistance; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Obesity / microbiology*