Time of Feeding Alters Obesity-Associated Parameters and Gut Bacterial Communities, but Not Fungal Populations, in C57BL/6 Male Mice

Curr Dev Nutr. 2020 Jan 3;4(2):nzz145. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzz145. eCollection 2020 Feb.


Background: Fasting and timed feeding strategies normalize obesity parameters even under high-fat dietary intake. Although previous work demonstrated that these dietary strategies reduce adiposity and improve metabolic health, limited work has examined intestinal microbial communities.

Objectives: We determined whether timed feeding modifies the composition of the intestinal microbiome and mycobiome (yeast and fungi).

Methods: Male C57BL/6 mice were fed a high-fat diet (HF) for 6 wk. Animals were then randomly assigned to the following groups (n = 8-10/group): 1) HF ad libitum; 2) purified high-fiber diet (Daniel Fast, DF); 3) HF-time-restricted feeding (TRF) (6 h); 4) HF-alternate-day fasting (ADF); or 5) HF at 80% total caloric restriction (CR). After 8 wk, obesity and gut parameters were characterized. We also examined changes to the gut microbiome and mycobiome before, during, and following dietary interventions.

Results: Body mass gain was reduced with all restricted dietary groups. HF-fed microbiota displayed lower α-diversity along with reduced phylum levels of Bacteroidetes and increased Firmicutes. Animals switched from HF to DF demonstrated a rapid transition in bacterial taxonomic composition, α-, and β-diversity that initially resembled HF, but was distinct after 4 and 8 wk of DF feeding. Time-or calorie-restricted HF-fed groups did not show changes at the phylum level, but α-diversity was increased, with specific genera altered. Six weeks of HF feeding reduced various fungal populations, particularly Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Talaromyces, and increased Candida, Hanseniaspora, and Kurtzmaniella. However, 8 wk of intervention did not change the fungal populations, with the most abundant genera being Candida, Penicillium, and Hanseniaspora.

Conclusions: These data suggest that timed-feeding protocols and diet composition do not significantly affect the gut fungal community, despite inducing measurable shifts in the bacterial population that coincide with improvements in metabolism.

Keywords: C57BL/6 mice; diet; microbiome; mycobiome; obesity; time-restricted feeding.