Co-author of the study, Dr Lee Kaplan, from the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that doctors in future could be able to mimic the microbial effects of the weight-loss surgery without performing the actual surgery.
Kaplan and Harvard biologist Peter Turnbaugh conducted the study on a group of mice by initially performing a gastric bypass and then comparing their weight loss, metabolic performance and gut microbes with another group of mice that had undergone sham surgeries but had lost weight after being placed on a low-calorie diet. The researchers found that the mice that underwent gastric bypass surgery lost 30 percent of their weight in the first three weeks and displayed changes in their gut microbes that were not shared by the other group.
"A major gap in our knowledge is the underlying mechanism linking microbes to weight loss. There were certain microbes that we found at higher abundance after surgery, so we think those are good targets for beginning to understand what's taking place", Turnbaugh said.