The human gut microbiota has been studied for more than a century. However, of nonculture-based techniques exploiting next-generation sequencing for analysing the microbiota, development has renewed research within the field during the past decade. The observation that the gut microbiota, as an environmental factor, contributes to adiposity has further increased interest in the field. The human microbiota is affected by the diet, and macronutrients serve as substrates for many microbially produced metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids and bile acids, that may modulate host metabolism. Obesity predisposes towards type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Recently, it has been established that levels of butyrate-producing bacteria are reduced in patients with type 2 diabetes, whereas levels of Lactobacillus sp. are increased. Recent data suggest that the reduced levels of butyrate-producing bacteria might be causally linked to type 2 diabetes. Bariatric surgery, which promotes long-term weight loss and diabetes remission, alters the gut microbiota in both mice and humans. Furthermore, by transferring the microbiota from postbariatric surgery patients to mice, it has been demonstrated that an altered microbiota may contribute to the improved metabolic phenotype following this intervention. Thus, greater understanding of alterations of the gut microbiota, in combination with dietary patterns, may provide insights into how the gut microbiota contributes to disease progression and whether it can be exploited as a novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic target.
© 2016 The Association for the Publication of the Journal of Internal Medicine.