Metabolic disorders including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease have become widespread in the United States. Unfortunately, adherence to effective medical and lifestyle treatment regimens for metabolic disorders is often poor as the result of poorly satisfying the hunger drive when limiting food calories and the labor intensiveness of food and glucose monitoring. Therefore, simple treatments strategies that do not require ignoring hunger drive or performing labor intensive monitoring and medication are vitally needed. Because gut microbiota composition has recently been shown to impact susceptibility to metabolic disease, we have pursued a novel strategy of genetically modifying the gut microbiota to secrete satiety factors. Because of the stability of gut bacteria, this stratgy may provide highly sustainable reductions in food intake without requiring treated individuals to ignore hunger drive or to perform labor intensive medication regimens. Our preliminary data demonstrate that when mice fed a high fat diet were administered E. coli Nissle 1917 modified to secrete N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE), these mice were protected against obesity. Importantly, this protection against obesity was sustained for the 4 week follow-up period after stopping administration of the modified bacteria demonstrating that at least some level of stable colonization was achieved. These exciting results demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, but also raise important questions, the answers to which will help us understand whether this strategy could be used to treat human obesity.
The aims of this proposal are: To determine the duration of protection afforded by treatment with NAPE secreting bacteria and if this will reverse already established obesity that arises both as the result of highly palatable diets or genetics. To determine the effect of the NAPE secreting bacteria on both short and long term neuronal processes regulating feeding behavior. To determine the molecular mechanism of action in the intestine of these NAPE secreting bacteria. If we successfully complete these studies, we will know if this strategy to remodel the gut microbiota is likely to be successful i obese humans and we will have a better understanding of how gut microbiota interact with their host to regulate host metabolic processes.

Public Health Relevance

About 1/3 of American are obese, which greatly increases their chances of having heart attacks, diabetes, or many other diseases. The purpose of the proposed studies is to determine if genetically modified probiotic bacteria can be used to treat obesity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Research Project (R01)
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Gastrointestinal Mucosal Pathobiology Study Section (GMPB)
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Duffy, Linda C
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Chen, Zhongyi; Guo, Lilu; Zhang, Yongqin et al. (2014) Incorporation of therapeutically modified bacteria into gut microbiota inhibits obesity. J Clin Invest 124:3391-406