Living a Healthy Life – High Levels of Akkermansia Lowers Obesity Risk?

Living a Healthy Life – High Levels of Akkermansia Lowers Obesity Risk?
Credit: NIH

An extensive research project by the name of the American Gut Project has linked a higher relative abundance of Akkermansia to a lower risk of Obesity. The findings from the research were published in the Nutrition & Metabolism journal. The only caveat to the findings is the rising variance in relationships as people age.

The study was a project of a group of researchers from the University of California, San Diego.

The study started in 2012 and had more than 10500 participants. It was the first of its kind as it set out to find a mediation effect on the activity of gut bacteria. Factors such as sex, age, and diet are common. But, no links between them and the anti-obesity effect of Akkermansia were known before the research.

People of ages from 20 to 99 were part of the research. Moreover, the participants were from two different continents. The Akkermansia presence and abundance were measured based on 16S rRNA sequencing data. The abundance varies with age and is significantly different among people from different geographical regions.

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The Many Variables Around Obesity

The variables taken into consideration were age, sex, smoking status, alcohol intake, and geographical region. The participants with higher values of Akkermansia were more likely to be from the female gender, did not smoke, and did not take a vegetarian diet. Furthermore, 17.6% of the population did not have any traces of Akkermansia.

Akkerrmansia and age have a strong correlation according to the findings of the study. The abundance saw a significant increase with age. On the other hand, some factors do not affect abundance. Neither geographical location, nor alcohol intake had any significant effect on the Akkermansia abundance.

Age, sex, smoking, and meat preferences were the focus of the researchers. To study this, there were three BMI groups in the population. All of them had different average ages. The results gave important insights. Obese people had a reduced Akkermansia abundance. Conversely, a higher abundance translates to a lower risk of obesity.

The above-mentioned effects significantly weaken with age. Age is a strong confounder in the Akkermansia-obesity relationship. The protective effects of the abundance decreased as the subject aged.

The gender of an individual does not have a significant effect on the protective effect.

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Although the research was a first of its kind, confounders such as cancer and hypertension could not be adjusted because of a lack of data. Moreover, Western diet was a part of most of the participants’ diets. Because of this, the researchers could not remove the diet bias. However, the researchers did eliminate the effects of vegan vs. non-vegan. Eliminating vegan bias got a more reliable result.

The Way Forward – Can This Lead To An End to Obesity?

The study has paved the way for further research on the subject. Moreover, it has shown that young people, females, non-smokers, and non-vegetarians have a higher chance of having a high abundance of Akkermansia. But, some of the relationships with these confounders could not be properly established. This was largely due to the complex mix-up of more than one variable on a single participant.

The research shows promise. A healthy life is an obesity free one, and though the occurrence of Akkermansia decreases with age, the artificial introduction of the same is still up for debate. If its introduction does not pose any other issue, it could prove to be an effective solution to obesity. This is particularly important as obesity leads to a ton of other diseases like hypertension and stroke.

Adeena Tariq Lari
The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.