Researchers involved in the “Metagenomics and Integrative Systems Medicine of Cardiometabolic Disease (METACARDIS)” clinical trial published data in Cell Metabolism that suggests the jejunum portion of the small intestine plays a significant role in inducing inflammation in severely obese patients. This inflammation has the potential to exacerbate the problem of obesity by altering nutrient uptake in the small intestine.
No treatments were applied during the trial. Only tissue biopsies, computed tomography scans, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry-scans, and body fluids were collected. Primarily, the researchers were looking for differences in gut microbiota content using metagenomics and establishing a relationship between signatures and cardiometabolic disease stage. The individuals donating samples were categorized into eight groups: obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, acute coronary events, chronic coronaropathy with or without cardiac insufficiency, cardiac insufficiency without coronopathy, and otherwise healthy.
To date, the research group has published work concerning the relationship between the small intestine and obesity. When a selection of patients were admitted for surgery such as gastric bypass, a sample of jejunum was obtained to be analyzed for markers of inflammation. The researchers discovered that the density of T lymphocytes that had colonized the jejunal walls directly correlated to the degree of obesity. These cells were producing cytokines that reduced the insulin sensitivity of the body and exacerbated patients’ altered state of nutrient absorption.
Adding to the data, the researchers also discovered that the intestines of an obese individual can have a 250% increase in surface area relative to healthy individuals, indicating how obese patients can absorb more nutrients. These results, as well as data concerning how T lymphocytes find their way to the small intestine, are discussed in the article, “Jejunal T Cell Inflammation in Human Obesity Correlates with Decreased Enterocyte Insulin Signaling.”
METACARDIS was started as a European Union-funded, 60-month research investigation into how gut microbiota can affect cardiometabolic diseases. At the end of the project, researchers hope to be able to translate the vast data supplied by metagenomics, clinical studies, and experimental studies into new diagnostics and preventative approaches for obesity, especially for those individuals living with successive stages of cardiometabolic diseases.