The Role of Akkermansia Muciniphila in Obesity and Weight Control

Akkermansia muciniphila is a bacterium that is commonly found in the human gut microbiota and has been found to have potential health benefits. Recently, a study was conducted to investigate the effects of A. muciniphila supplementation in overweight and obese individuals who are at high risk for metabolic syndrome. The study was a proof-of-concept exploratory study that showed promising results in terms of the safety and efficacy of A. muciniphila supplementation. In this article, we will explore the benefits of A. muciniphila supplementation and its potential as a therapeutic intervention for metabolic disorders.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Metabolic Disorders

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that increase an individual's risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is characterized by a constellation of comorbidities that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Recent studies have shown that the gut microbiota plays a critical role in the development and progression of metabolic disorders. The gut microbiota is composed of trillions of microorganisms that interact with each other and with the host, influencing a wide range of physiological processes, including metabolism, immune function, and gut barrier function.

The Link between Akkermansia Muciniphila and Metabolic Disorders

Akkermansia muciniphila is a Gram-negative bacterium that belongs to the Verrucomicrobia phylum. It is a mucin-degrading bacterium that lives in the mucus layer of the gut and feeds on the host's mucin. A. muciniphila has been found to be negatively correlated with overweight, obesity, untreated type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. Recent studies have shown that A. muciniphila supplementation can improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation in animal models. However, until recently, the effects of A. muciniphila supplementation in humans had not been investigated.

The Study

The study led by Dr. Patrice D. Cani at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in overweight/obese insulin-resistant volunteers. The primary endpoints were safety, tolerability, and metabolic parameters, including insulin resistance, circulating lipids, visceral adiposity, and body mass. Secondary outcomes were gut barrier function and gut microbiota composition. The study showed that daily oral supplementation of 1010 A. muciniphila bacteria either live or pasteurized for three months was safe and well-tolerated.

The Results

Compared to the placebo, pasteurized A. muciniphila improved insulin sensitivity by 28.62% and reduced insulinemia by 34.08%. It also reduced plasma total cholesterol by 8.68%. Pasteurized A. muciniphila supplementation slightly decreased body weight by 2.27 kg, fat mass by 1.37 kg, and hip circumference by 2.63 cm compared to baseline. After three months of supplementation, A. muciniphila reduced the levels of relevant blood markers for liver dysfunction and inflammation while the overall gut microbiome structure was unaffected.


The results of this proof-of-concept study (clinical trial no. NCT02637115) show that the intervention was safe and well-tolerated and that supplementation with A. muciniphila improves several metabolic parameters. The study provides promising evidence that A. muciniphila supplementation could be a therapeutic intervention for metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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  2. Cani, P. D. & de Vos, W. M. Next-generation beneficial microbes: the case of Akkermansia muciniphila. Front. Microbiol. 8, 1765 (2017).

  3. Depommier, C. et al. Supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila in overweight and obese human volunteers: a proof-of-concept exploratory study. Nat. Med. 25, 1096–1103 (2019).

  4. Dao, M. C. et al. Akkermansia muciniphila and improved metabolic health during a dietary intervention in obesity: relationship with gut microbiome richness and ecology. Gut 65, 426–436 (2016).

  5. Shin, N. R. et al. An increase in the Akkermansia spp. population induced by metformin treatment improves glucose homeostasis in diet-induced obese mice. Gut 63, 727–735 (2014).

  6. Everard, A. et al. Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 9066–9071 (2013).

  7. Plovier, H. et al. A purified membrane protein from Akkermansia muciniphila or the pasteurized bacterium improves metabolism in obese and diabetic mice. Nat. Med. 23, 107–113 (2017).

  8. Zhou, K. et al. Akkermansia muciniphila may determine choline metabolite composition in health and disease. J. Nutr. Biochem. 52, 61–67 (2018).

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