Food & Beverage

Scientists Discovered that Anti-inflammatory Protein Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria

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Scientists discovered that anti-inflammatory protein promotes healthy gut bacteria to curb obesity, according to a study published on September 19, 2018.

This study was conducted by the scientists at the UNC School of Medicine. They discovered that the anti-inflammatory protein, NLRP12, protected mice against obesity and insulin resistance when they were fed with high-fat diet. Moreover, they also found that NLRP12 gene is underactive in people who are obese, which makes it potential therapeutic target for treating obesity and diabetes.

Researchers showed that NLRP12’s anti-inflammatory effect promotes growth of a ‘good’ family of gut-dwelling bacteria called as Lachnospiraceae. It produces small molecules butyrate and propionate, which in turn promote gut health and protect mice against obesity and insulin resistance. In humans, NLRP12 is produced by several types of immune cells and appears to function as a brake on excessive inflammation.

A high-fat diet was fed to mice that lacked the NLRP12 gene (NLRP12-knockout mice) and ordinary mice by the scientists. The NLRP12-knockout mice ate and drank no more than their healthy cousins but accumulated significantly more fat and became heavier. The knockout mice also showed signs of insulin resistance. The absence of NLRP12 in these mice led to increased signs of inflammation in the gut and in fat deposits.

Furthermore, when the mice was kept in a bacteria-free condition, it did not show any increase in weight, as there were no bacteria. Enzymes that convert carbs and fiber into small molecules called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are present in Lachnospiraceae. The scientists observed that butyrate and propionate appeared in significantly greater abundance when the level of Lachnospiracea increased. Therefore, this study might be beneficial to develop treatment methods that can combat obesity as well as diabetes and other obesity-driven conditions.