Acta Diabetol. 2011 Dec;48(4):257-73. doi: 10.1007/s00592-011-0333-6. Epub 2011 Oct 2.
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Toulouse, France. firstname.lastname@example.org
More than several hundreds of millions of people will be diabetic and obese over the next decades in front of which the actual therapeutic approaches aim at treating the consequences rather than causes of the impaired metabolism. This strategy is not efficient and new paradigms should be found. The wide analysis of the genome cannot predict or explain more than 10-20% of the disease, whereas changes in feeding and social behavior have certainly a major impact. However, the molecular mechanisms linking environmental factors and genetic susceptibility were so far not envisioned until the recent discovery of a hidden source of genomic diversity, i.e., the metagenome. More than 3 million genes from several hundreds of species constitute our intestinal microbiome. First key experiments have demonstrated that this biome can by itself transfer metabolic disease. The mechanisms are unknown but could be involved in the modulation of energy harvesting capacity by the host as well as the low-grade inflammation and the corresponding immune response on adipose tissue plasticity, hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance and even the secondary cardiovascular events. Secreted bacterial factors reach the circulating blood, and even full bacteria from intestinal microbiota can reach tissues where inflammation is triggered. The last 5 years have demonstrated that intestinal microbiota, at its molecular level, is a causal factor early in the development of the diseases. Nonetheless, much more need to be uncovered in order to identify first, new predictive biomarkers so that preventive strategies based on pre- and probiotics, and second, new therapeutic strategies against the cause rather than the consequence of hyperglycemia and body weight gain.