UNC Health Care

Exploring Bacteria’s Role in Weight Gain and Loss

Bacteria. It’s gotten a bad rap. And while it causes serious problems such as pneumonia, strep throat and food poisoning, not all bacteria are bad. In fact, our bodies house nearly a trillion “good” bacteria, many of which reside in the gut. And now, scientists at UNC School of Medicine are exploring how bacteria play a role in weight gain and loss.

It all starts with our genes.

When the gene NLRP12 works properly, it has an anti-inflammatory effect on tissue. This effect in the gut promotes the growth of “good” gut-dwelling bacteria. These bacteria then produce molecules that keep the gut in balance and protect against obesity and insulin resistance. While this research was done in mice, it may one day help with treatment of obesity and diabetes in humans.

Check out the video to see how this process works and what it could mean for obesity treatment in the future.