A new study published in the journal mSphere suggests that gut fungi may be just as important as bacteria for understanding obesity and metabolic health.
The researchers were led by Dr. Cheryl Gale, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
As Dr. Gale and her colleagues explain, previous research has shown that obesity is associated with changes in gut bacteria.
Most studies have therefore focused on how a high-fat diet alters the gut microbiome, leaving the role of gut fungi overlooked.
The new study aims to fill this gap in research, particularly since gut fungi have recently been shown to affect intestinal inflammation.
Studying gut fungi in mice
Dr. Gale and her team fed two groups of mice two different diets: a high-fat one and a normal one (the control group).
Mice that were fed a high-fat diet put on weight and displayed metabolic markers of obesity, such as insulin resistance.
Having analyzed the bacterial and fungal microbiota, the researchers found that the mice fed the high-fat diet had “significantly different” bacterial and fungal compositions than those fed a normal diet.
For instance, regarding the bacterial composition, the study found “an increase in Firmicutes and [a] decrease in Bacteroidetes in response to…