A New Probiotic Candidate in the Fight Against Obesity

Last week, I wrote about Akkermansia, which I have to believe will soon be available, perhaps as a medical food. Today, I am introducing you to a newly discovered “next generation” probiotic that I read about over the weekend – say hello to Dysomobacter welbionis.

Researchers in Brussels isolated this novel Ruminococcaceae species. It appears to be closely related to another species called Oscillospira guillermondii, which has been “consistently associated to leanness.”[i]  As you know from reading this blog (look here for example), several specific species of bacteria have been found to have a direct effect on obesity and associated metabolic disorders.  Enterobacter cloacae causes obesity and insulin resistance.  Supplementing mice with Bilophila wadsworthia leads to glucose intolerance.  On the flip side, giving mice Eubacterium hallii reduces obesity in mice genetically engineered to be obese.  There are many more examples in the literature.  In fact, these researchers showed in a 2013 study on mice that Akkermansia muciniphila, “…counteracts diet-induced obesity and related disorders, such as glucose intolerance, insulin resistance…”  They also tested in humans and found the same.  (You can read more about probiotics and obesity here and here.)

Using several large cohorts of people (including the American Gut Project, the Flemish Gut Flora Project, and several more), for a total of 11,984 subjects, the scientists cultured relative abundance of this species and found that it is highly prevalent in the general population, and that its abundance is  negatively correlated with BMI and fasting glycaemia (high blood sugar even while fasting).  They found that it is present in 62.7-69.8% of healthy subjects, and ranged in abundance (i.e. the percentage of the total species in the gut) from 0-9.2%.  In those who were obese, levels of the bacterium was markedly lower.

They then supplemented this species in mice who were being fed a high fat diet, and found that it somewhat reduced body weight, as well as improving glucose and energy metabolisms.  By the way, in this case, only the live bacteria worked – not the pasteurized (heat-killed) one, as has been shown effective with Akkermansia (see here for more on this).

While they do not as yet know the exact mechanisms of how this species exerts its beneficial effects, the scientists note that it is a producer of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), butyrate, which is known to increase energy production (meaning that you are using more calories).  However, they did not find an increase in levels of butyrate in either blood or the gut.  However, in spite of not knowing how it works, their data strongly suggests that D.welbionis helps regulate both the host’s energy metabolism and fat mass development:  “Altogether, our data strongly support the beneficial effects of live D.welbionis J115T on diet-induced obesity and diabetes.”

Obviously, way more research is needed on this.  This type of research always starts with animal models – will these results translate to humans?  What will optimal dosing look like?  Will combinations of these “fat busting” species work best and if so, what does that combination look like?  Still, I for one find this kind of research very exciting and promising.  Something is making us fatter, and we know that it’s not as simple as simply eating too much.


[i] Le Roy T, Moens de Hase E, Van Hul M, et al. Dysosmobacter welbionis is a newly isolated human commensal bacterium preventing diet-induced obesity and metabolic disorders in mice. Gut Published Online First: 08 June 2021. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2020-323778


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