Several previous studies suggest a role for gut bacteria in driving metabolic disease, including inflammation, weight gain, and reduced insulin sensitivity. While a comprehensive understanding of how microbial diversity changes over the course of normal pregnancy is lacking, during pregnancy, bacterial load is reported to increase.
In the current study researchers obtained stool samples from 91 pregnant women. They found that gut microbes changed in composition from the first trimester to the third trimester, becoming less "normal" and less diverse over time. According to the researchers, health-promoting bacteria decreased in abundance, and disease-related bacteria increased in number (with a corresponding increase in signs of inflammation).
In contrast, the presence of health-promoting bacteria was significantly reduced as individual women progressed from first trimester to third trimester. At the start of the study, the first trimester gut microbiotas were similar to one another and comparable to those of normal healthy controls but shifted substantially in over the course of pregnancy. By the third trimester, the between-subject diversity has greatly expanded, even though within-subject diversity is reduced, and an enrichment of Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria was observed in a majority of third trimester samples.
Interstingly, when the researchers transferred the third trimester bacterial samples to healthy, germ-free mice, the animals became fatter and had higher levels of inflammation markers and worse glucose metabolism (compared to mice that received microbes from the first trimester).
"By the third trimester, the microbiota can induce changes in metabolism," noted principal investigator. "In the context of pregnancy, these metabolic changes in the mother are healthy, because they promote energy storage in fat tissue and help support the fetus. Outside of pregnancy, however, these changes can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and other health problems."
This is very interesting since the vaginal microbiota that newborns pick-up while passing through the vaginal canal during a normal birth is influenced by the gut microbiota (via bacterial migration from the rectal area to the vagina...same mechanism of how probiotic supplements can help prevent vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections).
So the picture is getting increasingly complex. Stay tuned-in with a free subscription to Know Guff.
Source: Host Remodeling of the Gut Microbiome and Metabolic Changes during Pregnancy
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