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Metabolic Responses to Butyrate Supplementation in LF- and HF-Fed Mice Are Cohort-Dependent and Associated with Changes in Composition and Function of the Gut Microbiota


The gut microbiota and associated metabolites have emerged as potential modulators of pathophysiological changes in obesity and related metabolic disorders. Butyrate, a product of bacterial fermentation, has been shown to have beneficial effects in obesity and rodent models of diet-induced obesity. Here, we aimed to determine the beneficial effects of butyrate (as glycerol ester of butyrate monobutyrin, MB) supplementation on metabolic phenotype, intestinal permeability and inflammation, feeding behavior, and the gut microbiota in low-fat (LF)- and high-fat (HF)-fed mice. Two cohorts (separated by 2 weeks) of male C57BL/6J mice (n = 24 in each cohort, 6/group/cohort; 6 weeks old) were separated into four weight-matched groups and fed either a LF (10 % fat/kcal) or HF (45% fat/kcal) with or without supplementation of MB (LF/MB or HF/MB) at 0.25% (w/v) in drinking water for 6 weeks. Metabolic phenotypes (body weight and adiposity), intestinal inflammation, feeding behavior, and fecal microbiome and metabolites were measured. Despite identical genetic and experimental conditions, we found marked differences between cohorts in the response (body weight gain, adiposity, and intestinal permeability) to HF-diet and MB. Notably, the composition of the gut microbiota was significantly different between cohorts, characterized by lower species richness and differential abundance of a large number of taxa, including subtaxa from five phyla, including increased abundance of the genera Bacteroides, Proteobacteria, and Parasutterella in cohort 2 compared to cohort 1. These differences may have contributed to the differential response in intestinal permeability to the HF diet in cohort 2. MB supplementation had no significant effect on metabolic phenotype, but there was a trend to protect from HF-induced impairments in intestinal barrier function in cohort 1 and in sensitivity to cholecystokinin (CCK) in both cohorts. These data support the concept that microbiota composition may have a crucial effect on metabolic responses of a host to dietary interventions and highlight the importance of taking steps to ensure reproducibility in rodent studies.

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