Helminth-Induced and Th2-Dependent Alterations of the Gut Microbiota Attenuate Obesity Caused by High-Fat Diet

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;10(4):763-778. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2020.06.010. Epub 2020 Jul 3.

Abstract

Background & aims: Epidemiological and animal studies have indicated an inverse correlation between the rising prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome and exposure to helminths. Whether helminth-induced immune response contributes to microbiota remodeling in obesity remains unknown. The aim of this study is to explore the immune-regulatory role of helminth in the prevention of HFD-induced obesity through remodeling gut microbiome.

Methods: C57BL/6J WT and STAT6-/- mice were infected with Heligmosomoides polygyrus and followed by high fat diet (HFD) feeding for 6 weeks. The host immune response, body weight, and fecal microbiota composition were analyzed. We used adoptive transfer of M2 macrophages and microbiota transplantation approaches to determine the impact of these factors on HFD-obesity. We also examined stool microbiota composition and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) concentration and determined the expression of SCFA-relevant receptors in the recipient mice.

Results: Helminth infection of STAT6-/- (Th2-deficient) mice and adoptive transfer of helminth-induced alternatively activated (M2) macrophages demonstrated that the helminth-associated Th2 immune response plays an important role in the protection against obesity and induces changes in microbiota composition. Microbiota transplantation showed that helminth-induced, Th2-dependent alterations of the gut microbiota are sufficient to confer protection against obesity. Collectively, these results indicate that helminth infection protects against HFD-induced obesity by Th2-dependent, M2 macrophage-mediated alterations of the intestinal microbiota.

Conclusion: Our findings provide new mechanistic insights into the complex interplay between helminth infection, the immune system and the gut microbiota in a HFD-induced obesity model and holds promise for gut microbiome-targeted immunotherapy in obesity prevention.

Keywords: Helminth; High-fat diet; Microbiome; Obesity; Type 2 immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't