The trick for wintering: Darmflora saves through the cold winter

The trick for wintering: Darmflora saves through the cold winter

Overweight without diabetes - intestinal flora keeps fat bears healthy

Scientists were able to reveal a secret. The question was: How can it be that brown bears can put on an extremely strong fat pad in order to use it as an energy reserve for wintering without becoming seriously ill? In their search, the researchers came across special intestinal bacteria.

Before going into hibernation, brown bears eat an enormous amount of fat as an energy reserve without this leading to overweight-related diseases such as arteriosclerosis or diabetes. Researchers have now investigated why this is the case. They came to the conclusion that intestinal bacteria play an important role in this. The findings could be used to treat obesity.

Fat brown bears without diabetes
In summer, brown bears eat a thick pad of fat that serves as an energy reserve during winter rest. Until now it was not known why the animals did not develop obesity (obesity) and diabetes despite the strong weight gain. Swedish scientists have now examined the role of the intestinal flora. By analyzing faecal samples that were "provided" by 16 wild brown bears, the researchers found that the species spectrum of intestinal germs in winter is very different from that in summer. As the biologists and doctors report in the journal "Cell Reports", they compared characteristic blood (fat) values ​​in parallel. According to the scientists, there were clear differences in both areas:

Gut flora different in summer and winter
The team led by Fredrik Bäckhed (University of Gothenburg) found that the respective blood values ​​differed greatly. In the summer, the diversity of the intestinal bacteria was much greater. The intestinal flora contained much more of so-called gram-positive bacteria, which include actinobacteria, bacillus species and clostridia, reports the Austrian “Standard”. In a second step, the researchers transplanted summer and winter faecal samples into the intestines of germ-free mice, which promptly developed very differently. The rodents became fatter with the summer bacteria than the others, but showed a normal sugar metabolism and no signs of illness.

Grizzlys become diabetic temporarily
This makes it obvious to Fredrik Bäckhed that the intestinal flora is likely to be a more important regulator for energy metabolism and cold adaptation than previously thought. Another focus of research was investigations in which the winter rest of grizzly bears was examined. These hibernate into diabetes, as US scientists reported a few years ago. The animals are very fat in autumn, but they are free of symptoms. But only a few weeks later they are diabetic during hibernation. When they wake up in spring, the animals are "healed" again. As the scientists wrote in the journal "Cell Metabolism" at the time, obesity does not necessarily lead to diabetes.

Approach to therapy of obesity
According to the Swedish researchers, the main thing is to learn from the bears a possible approach to treating obesity. In earlier scientific studies, an altered intestinal flora compared to healthy people was also found in obese people. Studies have also shown that the composition of the intestinal bacteria differs in people in colder regions. Another human intestinal flora in the north is advantageous because less weight is lost when the weight increases. (ad)

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