Obesity has long been associated with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and other disorders and diseases, but researchers have not known why some obese people develop these problems and others do not. Research conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published recently in PLoS ONE, a journal of the Pubic Library of Science, has suggested an answer: people who are vulnerable to insulin resistance and high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels seem more likely to carry in their intestines some 26 species of bacteria that are not found in the people who do not develop those conditions.
The researchers do not know how the bacteria foster the development of metabolic syndrome. It is possible that a byproduct of the microorganisms causes it, or that the metabolic functions of the bacteria influence those of their host. Even though there is still much to be understood, researchers believe the insights gained from the study already may be a step toward developing new treatments for metabolic syndrome. Says Brandi Cantarel, PhD, a research associate at the University of Maryland Institute of Genome Sciences who worked on the study: "We can't infer cause or effect, but now that we have results from step one and we can now look at what the bacteria are doing, it can give us more information to go about getting an intervention.” Read more in an article published in the Baltimore Sun.