Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 317–332 | Cite as

Understanding the Role of the Gut Microbiome and Microbial Metabolites in Obesity and Obesity-Associated Metabolic Disorders: Current Evidence and Perspectives

  • Natalia Vallianou
  • Theodora Stratigou
  • Gerasimos Socrates Christodoulatos
  • Maria DalamagaEmail author
Metabolism (M Dalamaga, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Metabolism



In this review, we summarize current evidence on the gut microbiome and microbial metabolites in relation to obesity and obesity-associated metabolic disorders. Special emphasis is given on mechanisms interconnecting gut microbiome and microbial metabolites with metabolic disorders as well as on potential preventive and therapeutic perspectives with a “bench to bedside” approach.

Recent Findings

Recent data have highlighted the role of gut dysbiosis in the etiology and pathogenesis of metabolic disorders, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Overall, most studies have demonstrated a reduction in gut microbiome diversity and richness in obese subjects, but there is still much debate on the exact microbial signature of a healthy or an obese gut microbiome. Despite the controversial role of an altered gut microbiome as a cause or consequence of obesity in human studies, numerous animal studies and certain human studies suggest beneficial metabolic effects of certain microbial intestinal metabolites, such as butyrate, that could be used in the prevention and treatment of obesity and its comorbidities.


More randomized controlled trials and larger prospective studies including well-defined cohorts as well as a multi-omics approach are warranted to better identify the associations between the gut microbiome, microbial metabolites, and obesity and its metabolic complications.


Diabetes Gut Intestine Metabolic syndrome Metabolite Metabolic disorder Microbiome Microbiota Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Obesity Prebiotics Probiotics Synbiotics 





Branched-chain amino acids


Body mass index


C-reactive protein


Cardiovascular disease


Diabetes mellitus


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio


Farnesoid X receptor




Gastrointestinal tract


Glucagon-like peptide-1


Glycated hemoglobin


Hepatocellular carcinoma




Insulin-like growth factor


Insulin receptor substrate


Inulin-type fructans


Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Metabolic syndrome




Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis


Nuclear factor-κB


Polymerase chain reaction


Quantitative PCR


Randomized controlled trials


Short-chain fatty acids


Signal transducer and activator of transcription


Stimulated by retinoic acid 6


Type 2 diabetes mellitus


G protein-coupled bile acid receptor 1


Toll-like receptor




Trimethylamine N-oxide


Tumor necrosis factor-α


Tsumura Suzuki obese diabetes


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Vallianou Natalia has nothing to disclose.

Dr. Stratigou has nothing to disclose.

Dr. Christodoulatos GS has nothing to disclose.

Dr. Dalamaga has nothing to disclose.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors were performed in accordance with all applicable ethical standards including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia Vallianou
    • 1
  • Theodora Stratigou
    • 1
  • Gerasimos Socrates Christodoulatos
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Dalamaga
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EndocrinologyEvangelismos General Hospital of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Laboratory of MicrobiologyKAT HospitalAthensGreece
  3. 3.Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical SchoolNational and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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