Under the supports from the MOST and Chang Gung University, recent studies from Dr. Hsin-Chih Lai’s research team have revealed new exciting results. They found that obese animals treated with high molecular weight polysaccharides derived from Ganoderma lucidum and Hirsutella sinensis mycelium (both being medicinal fungi) significantly show amelioration of obesity, liver inflammations and diabetic syndromes.
Further fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and antibiotics treatment experiments identified a close association between the polysaccharides effects and a commensal bacterium Parabacteroides goldsteinii. Mono-association of this bacterium with amelioration of the obesity-related diseases was subsequently reported (Nature Communications 2015; GUT 2018) (see figure attached). Thus this newly identified bacterial strain may very likely be developed as a global next generation probiotic against obesity and metabolic syndromes. In parallel, the polysaccharides from G. lucidum and H. sinensis may act as the prebiotics for enrichment of this bacterium.
In the 21st century, obesity is not just only an issue of appearance. As the prevalence rate of obesity has been increasing worldwide, obesity is now formally recognized as a type of disease. Even so, effective and safe intervention approaches are still urgently needed. The traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been widely used in Asia and mainland China for thousands of years for prevention or treatment of obesity. There are already many successful clinical cases in reducing obesity. However, comparatively there are still few studies specifically focusing on TCM, gut microbiota and their ameliorative effects on obesogenicity. Thus it is very important to conduct more stringent scientific research in this field.
During recent years, microbiota studies associated with amelioration of many chronic inflammations have become the focus of scientific research. More advanced technology platforms such as next generation sequencing (NGS), multi-omics and bioinformatics are widely used in microbiota related interdisciplinary studies. Important and significant results obtained from the big data are rapidly gathered. In the aspect of anti-obesity study, through deciphering the basic structure and composition of gut microbiota between healthy people and patients, novel microbiota bacterial strains can be identified. These bacteria are subsequently used for in-depth mechanistic studies, addressing how and why the bacterial strain(s) can modulate host immunity and inflammations, leading to amelioration of diseases. Based on the results obtained, small chemical molecules are then expected to be identified for further clinical application.
In the near future, Dr. Lai’s research team plans to initiate more interactions and collaborations with investigators from different fields, and explore more probiotic bacteria to clarify their interactions with the host and other microbiota bacteria. Clinical trials with newly identified small chemicals are being intensively carried out. Practical translational clinical applications are expected.
Department of Life Sciences, MOST