London: Bugs in our large intestine may be slowing down the activity of brown or `good fat` that quickly burns calories and keeps us slim.
Sandrine P. Claus and Jeremy K. Nicholson from Imperial College London decided to see how trillions of such bacteria, which inhabit the large intestine and aid in digestion, might affect brown fat.
Brown fat burns calories quickly before they can be stored and exists in small deposits in the neck area and elsewhere - not like "white fat" in flab around the waist and buttocks, the Journal of Proteome Research reports.
In experiments that compared "germ-free" (GF) mice, which don`t have large-intestine bacteria, and regular mice, the scientists uncovered evidence suggesting that the bacteria do influence the activity of brown fat, according to an Imperial College statement.
Brown fat in the GF mice seemed to be more active, burning calories faster than in regular mice. Large-intestine bacteria also seemed to be linked with gender differences in weight. Normal male mice were heavier and fatter than females, but those differences vanished in GF mice.
The research also uncovered major differences in the interactions between males and females and their intestinal bacteria that might help explain why the obesity epidemic is more serious and rapidly developing in women.
The discovery could open the way to prevent obesity and promote weight loss, including possible microbial and drug approaches.