Gut microbiome and bile acids in obesity-related diseases

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 May;35(3):101493. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2021.101493. Epub 2021 Feb 10.


Dysbiosis has been implemented in the etiologies of obesity-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, NAFLD and cardiovascular diseases. Bile acids, a class of amphipathic steroids produced in the liver and extensively modified by the microbiome, are increasingly recognized as actors in onset and progression of these diseases. Indeed, human obesity is associated with altered bile acid metabolism. Bile acids facilitate intestinal fat absorption but also exert hormone-like functions through activation of nuclear and membrane-bound receptors and thereby modulate glucose, lipid and energy metabolism, intestinal integrity and immunity. Bile acid-signaling pathways have thus been identified as potential pharmacological targets for obesity-related diseases. Interfering with microbiome composition may also be considered, as liver- and microbiome-derived bile acid species have different signaling functions. This review summarizes recent developments in this rapidly expanding field of research and addresses potential clinical prospects of interference with bile acid signaling pathways in human diseases.

Keywords: bile acids and salts; hormones; microbiota; nuclear receptors; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Dysbiosis
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Obesity


  • Bile Acids and Salts