, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 357–371 | Cite as

Microbiota and metabolic diseases

  • Alessia Pascale
  • Nicoletta Marchesi
  • Cristina Marelli
  • Adriana Coppola
  • Livio Luzi
  • Stefano Govoni
  • Andrea Giustina
  • Carmine Gazzaruso


The microbiota is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms consisting of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, living in different districts of the human body, such as the gastro-enteric tube, skin, mouth, respiratory system, and the vagina. Over 70% of the microbiota lives in the gastrointestinal tract in a mutually beneficial relationship with its host. The microbiota plays a major role in many metabolic functions, including modulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis, regulation of satiety, production of energy and vitamins. It exerts a role in the regulation of several biochemical and physiological mechanisms through the production of metabolites and substances. In addition, the microbiota has important anti-carcinogenetic and anti-inflammatory actions. There is growing evidence that any modification in the microbiota composition can lead to several diseases, including metabolic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. This is because alterations in the microbiota composition can cause insulin resistance, inflammation, vascular, and metabolic disorders. The causes of the microbiota alterations and the mechanisms by which microbiota modifications can act on the development of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases have been reported. Current and future preventive and therapeutic strategies to prevent these diseases by an adequate modulation of the microbiota have been also discussed.

Key words

Microbiota Microbiome Diabetes Obesity Cardiovascular disease Metabolic syndrome 



AMP-Activated protein kinase


Cardiovascular diseases


Fasting-induced adipose factor


Fecal microbiota transplant


Glucagon-like peptide 1


Glucagon-like peptide-2


High-density lipoprotein


High-fat diet


Insulin resistance


Lipoprotein lipase




Metabolic syndrome


Peptide YY


Roux-en-Y bypass


Short-chain fatty acids


Type 1 diabetes


Type 2 diabetes


Toll-like receptor 4




Very low-density lipoprotein


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The present editorial complies with ethical requirements.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Drug Sciences, Pharmacology sectionUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Diabetes and endocrine and metabolic diseases Unit and the Centre for Applied Clinical Research (Ce.R.C.A.) Clinical Institute “Beato Matteo” (Hospital Group San Donato)VigevanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical Sciences for HealthUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  4. 4.Metabolism Research CenterIRCCS Policlinico San DonatoSan Donato MilaneseItaly
  5. 5.Chair of Endocrinology San Raffaele Vita-Salute UniversityMilanItaly

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