Authors: Lisa M Olsson, Christine Poitou, Valentina Tremaroli, Muriel Coupaye, Judith Aron-Wisnewsky, Fredrik Bäckhed, Karine Clément, Robert Caesar.
Gut. 2020 Jul;69(7):1229-1238. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319322.
PubMed ID: 31611297


Objective: The gut microbiota has been implicated in the aetiology of obesity and associated comorbidities. Patients with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) are obese but partly protected against insulin resistance. We hypothesised that the gut microbiota of PWS patients differs from that of non-genetically obese controls and correlate to metabolic health. Therefore, here we used PWS as a model to study the role of gut microbiota in the prevention of metabolic complications linked to obesity.

Design: We conducted a case-control study with 17 adult PWS patients and 17 obese subjects matched for body fat mass index, gender and age. The subjects were metabolically characterised and faecal microbiota was profiled by 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. The patients’ parents were used as a non-obese control group. Stool samples from two PWS patients and two obese controls were used for faecal microbiota transplantations in germ-free mice to examine the impact of the microbiota on glucose metabolism.

Results: The composition of the faecal microbiota in patients with PWS differed from that of obese controls, and was characterised by higher phylogenetic diversity and increased abundance of several taxa such as Akkermansia, Desulfovibrio and Archaea, and decreased abundance of Dorea. Microbial taxa prevalent in the PWS microbiota were associated with markers of insulin sensitivity. Improved insulin resistance of PWS was partly transmitted by faecal microbiota transplantations into germ-free mice.

Conclusion: The gut microbiota of PWS patients is similar to that of their non-obese parents and might play a role for the protection of PWS patients from metabolic complications.