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BACKGROUND: Obesity, metabolic disease and some psychiatric conditions are associated with changes to relative abundance of bacterial species and specific genes in the faecal microbiome. Little is known about the impact of pharmacologically induced weight loss on distinct microbiome species and their respective gene programs in obese individuals. METHODOLOGY: Using shotgun metagenomics, the composition of the microbiome was obtained for two cohorts of obese female Wistar rats (n = 10-12, total of 82) maintained on a high fat diet before and after a 42-day treatment with a panel of four investigatory or approved anti-obesity drugs (tacrolimus/FK506, bupropion, naltrexone and sibutramine), alone or in combination. RESULTS: Only sibutramine treatment induced consistent weight loss and improved glycaemic control in the obese rats. Weight loss was associated with reduced food intake and changes to the faecal microbiome in multiple microbial taxa, genes, and pathways. These include increased β-diversity, increased relative abundance of multiple Bacteroides species, increased Bacteroides/Firmicutes ratio and changes to abundance of genes and species associated with obesity-induced inflammation, particularly those encoding components of the flagellum and its assembly. CONCLUSIONS: Sibutramine-induced weight loss in obese rats is associated with improved metabolic health, and changes to the faecal microbiome consistent with a reduction in obesity-induced bacterially-driven inflammation.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Microbiol

Publication Date





Bupropion, Faecal microbiome, Naltrexone, Obese female Wistar rats, Obesity, Shotgun metagenomics, Sibutramine, Tacrolimus/FK506, Weight loss, Weight loss drugs, Animals, Bacteroides, Female, Gastrointestinal Microbiome, Inflammation, Obesity, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Weight Loss