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by Guest Author August 11, 2022 7 min read

What is Akkermansia muciniphila?

Akkermansia muciniphila is a species of beneficial bacteria naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. It is one of the most abundant single species of bacteria in the gut microbiome, making up an estimated 3 to 5% of the total gut microbial community in healthy adults. [1]

A. muciniphila is a mucus-degrading bacteria, meaning it feeds off the mucus lining our intestinal cells. [2] As it breaks down mucus, A. muciniphila actually stimulates the production of more mucus. [3] This is very beneficial, as the mucus layer acts as a first line of defense for intestinal cells, trapping toxic particles before they enter the intestine.

A. muciniphila is associated with a wide range of health benefits, some of which are described in further detail below.

Research has show Akkermansia to be beneficial to us for gut barrier integrity, immune response and synergistic regulation of the gut microbiome. We see the benefits as reduced fat storage, enhanced insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation. We'll discuss these in more detail below:
   

Gut health benefits

A. muciniphila¬†can support digestive health by strengthening the gut barrier, which is the outer layer of our intestinal cells.¬†A. muciniphila¬†has been shown to increase the integrity of the gut barrier, by triggering immunomodulatory pathways. [4, 5] In this way,¬†A. muciniphila¬†may protect against ‚Äúleaky gut,‚ÄĚ which can occur when the intestinal barrier is weakened, allowing harmful substances to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. [6]

normal vs leaky gut junction

A. muciniphila also stimulates the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate. [7] These SCFAs have a wide array of gut health benefits, including appetite regulation, improved nutrient utilization, protection against inflammation, and strengthening of the gut barrier. [8, 9]

Furthermore, A. muciniphila levels have been shown to be lower in people with digestive disorders compared to healthy controls. For example, diminished levels of A. muciniphila have been observed in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease. [10, 11, 12] Reduced A. muciniphila levels have also been associated with increased severity of appendicitis. [13]

Altogether, these findings demonstrate a clear relationship between A. muciniphila and digestive health. Interestingly, however, the benefits of A. muciniphila extend far beyond the gut.

Related: Prebiotics: What You Should Know

Supporting a healthy weight

A. muciniphila may promote a healthy body weight and protect against weight gain and obesity. In studies on mice that are fed high-fat diets, A. muciniphila has been shown to offset weight gain and even reverse obesity. [14, 15]

A. muciniphila has also been inversely associated with overweight and obesity in human studies. In a study on 50 pregnant women, A. muciniphila was higher in women with normal weight gain during pregnancy compared to those with excess weight gain. [16] Additionally, in a study on 20 overweight or obese children and 20 children of a healthy body weight, A. muciniphila abundance was significantly lower in the overweight/obese children compared to those of a healthy weight. [17]

Thus, there is promising evidence to support A. muciniphila’s antiobesity effects, although the exact mechanisms underlying these effects are not fully understood. [14]

Related: Low Carb High Fat - The Effect on Weight Loss, Diabetes, and Metabolic Risk Factors Compared to Other Diets

Protection against metabolic disorders

A. muciniphila may also support metabolic health and improve risk factors for heart disease. In one study, 32 overweight or obese adults were assigned to take either standard A. muciniphila, pasteurized A. muciniphila, or a placebo supplement daily for 3 months. [18] The researchers found that A. muciniphila supplementation was safe and well-tolerated in these participants.

More notably, A. muciniphila was associated with significant reductions in insulin resistance, total cholesterol levels, and inflammatory marker levels. The individuals that took A. muciniphila also showed reduced body weight and reduced waist circumference.

the effects of Akkermansia on host metabolism

Effects of A. muciniphila and derived products on host metabolism
Image source: Cani, P.D., & de Vos, W.M. (2017). Next-Generation Beneficial Microbes: The Case of Akkermansia muciniphila. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8.

Although there are few human intervention studies on the topic, other studies have shown associations between A. muciniphila and improved markers of cardiometabolic health.

In a study on 49 overweight or obese adults, those with the highest A. muciniphila levels had the most favorable measures of metabolic health, includingfasting glucose, plasma triglycerides, and body fat distribution. [19]

In another study, the antidiabetic effects of metformin (a drug commonly prescribed for diabetes) were correlated with an increase in A. muciniphila abundance. [20] Similarly, lower levels of A. muciniphila have been observed in individuals with diabetes compared to healthy controls. [21]

These findings suggest that A. muciniphila may promote good metabolic health and protect against conditions like diabetes, dislipidemia, and heart disease.

Related: Metabolic Flexibility: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Improve It

Promoting a healthy immune system

By regulating immune responses and lowering inflammation, A. muciniphila promotes a healthy, well-functioning immune system.

A. muciniphila has been shown to stimulate the expression of genes involved in immune pathways, [22] and increase the expression of antimicrobial peptides in the digestive tract. [14]

Additionally, A. muciniphila can reduce inflammation by downregulating the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as demonstrated through a recent mouse study. [23] This study also found that A. muciniphila protected against age-related decline in the thickness of the mucus layer lining the gut. In other words,A. muciniphila promotes a strong gut lining, even into older age.

These results not only demonstrate A. muciniphila’s anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating effects, but also reveal its ability to support a healthy aging process.

Related: Caloric Restriction Mimetics in Health & Longevity

How to increase Akkermansia Muciniphila levels

Now that you know the health benefits of A. muciniphila, you may be wondering how to get more of this good bacteria.

A. muciniphila levels are influenced by many factors, including diet, weight, geography, and age. [1] Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase your A. muciniphila levels:

  • A. muciniphila¬†can be taken orally as a supplement, which has been shown to be a safe and effective method of increasing¬†A. muciniphila¬†levels. [24]
  • Some¬†polyphenols are antibacterial, while others feed beneficial bacteria like Akkermansia.¬†¬†

 Pendulum Akkermansia

Pendulum Akkermansia is the only brand with Akkermansia strain.Thanks to Pendulum’s patented cutting-edge science this next-generation beneficial bacteria is now available is a capsule form.

 

Bottom line

A. muciniphila is a well-tolerated bacterial species with many potential health benefits. A. muciniphila may support a healthy gut, protect against obesity and metabolic disorders, and support optimal immune function, as demonstrated through human and animal studies.

Although more research is needed to clarify the strength and underlying mechanisms of these effects, the existing evidence supports A. muciniphila’s potential to promote good health across the entire body. 

References

1. Xu Y, Wang N, Tan HY, Li S, Zhang C, Feng Y. Function ofAkkermansia muciniphila in Obesity: Interactions With Lipid Metabolism, Immune Response and Gut Systems.Front Microbiol. 2020;11:219. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.00219

2. Belzer C, de Vos WM. Microbes inside--from diversity to function: the case of Akkermansia.ISME J. 2012;6(8):1449-1458. doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.6

3. Derrien M, Belzer C, de Vos WM. Akkermansia muciniphila and its role in regulating host functions.Microb Pathog. 2017;106:171-181. doi:10.1016/j.micpath.2016.02.005

4. Ottman N, Reunanen J, Meijerink M, et al. Pili-like proteins of Akkermansia muciniphila modulate host immune responses and gut barrier function.PLoS One. 2017;12(3):e0173004. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173004

5. Reunanen J, Kainulainen V, Huuskonen L, et al. Akkermansia muciniphila Adheres to Enterocytes and Strengthens the Integrity of the Epithelial Cell Layer.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015;81(11):3655-3662. doi:10.1128/AEM.04050-14

6. Camilleri M. Leaky gut: mechanisms, measurement and clinical implications in humans.Gut. 2019;68(8):1516-1526. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318427

7. de Vos WM. Microbe Profile: Akkermansia muciniphila: a conserved intestinal symbiont that acts as the gatekeeper of our mucosa.Microbiology (Reading). 2017;163(5):646-648. doi:10.1099/mic.0.000444

8. Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication.Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:25. doi:10.3389/fendo.2020.00025

9. den Besten G, van Eunen K, Groen AK, Venema K, Reijngoud DJ, Bakker BM. The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism.J Lipid Res. 2013;54(9):2325-2340. doi:10.1194/jlr.R036012

10. Png CW, Lindén SK, Gilshenan KS, et al. Mucolytic bacteria with increased prevalence in IBD mucosa augment in vitro utilization of mucin by other bacteria.Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105(11):2420-2428. doi:10.1038/ajg.2010.281

11. Rajilińá-Stojanovińá M, Shanahan F, Guarner F, de Vos WM. Phylogenetic Analysis of Dysbiosis in Ulcerative Colitis During Remission.Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2013;19(3):481-488.https://doi.org/10.1097/MIB.0b013e31827fec6d

12. Morgan XC, Kabakchiev B, Waldron L, et al. Associations between host gene expression, the mucosal microbiome, and clinical outcome in the pelvic pouch of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.Genome Biol. 2015;16(1):67. doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0637-x

13. Swidsinski A, Dörffel Y, Loening-Baucke V, et al. Acute appendicitis is characterised by local invasion with Fusobacterium nucleatum/necrophorum.Gut. 2011;60(1):34-40. doi:10.1136/gut.2009.191320

14. Everard A, Belzer C, Geurts L, et al. Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(22):9066-9071. doi:10.1073/pnas.1219451110

15. Plovier H, Everard A, Druart C, et al. A purified membrane protein from Akkermansia muciniphila or the pasteurized bacterium improves metabolism in obese and diabetic mice.Nat Med. 2017;23(1):107-113. doi:10.1038/nm.4236

16. Santacruz A, Collado MC, Garcia-Valdes L, Segura MT, Martin-Lagos JA, Anjos T et al. (2010). Gut microbiota composition is associated with body weight, weight gain and biochemical parameters in pregnant women. Br J Nutr 104: 83‚Äď92.

17. Karlsson CL, Onnerfält J, Xu J, Molin G, Ahrné S, Thorngren-Jerneck K. The microbiota of the gut in preschool children with normal and excessive body weight.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012;20(11):2257-2261. doi:10.1038/oby.2012.110

18. Depommier C, Everard A, Druart C, et al. Supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila in overweight and obese human volunteers: a proof-of-concept exploratory study.Nat Med. 2019;25(7):1096-1103. doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0495-2

19. Dao MC, Everard A, Aron-Wisnewsky J, et al. Akkermansia muciniphila and improved metabolic health during a dietary intervention in obesity: relationship with gut microbiome richness and ecology.Gut. 2016;65(3):426-436. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-308778

20. Shin NR, Lee JC, Lee HY, et al. An increase in the Akkermansia spp. population induced by metformin treatment improves glucose homeostasis in diet-induced obese mice.Gut. 2014;63(5):727-735. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-303839

21. Zhang X, Shen D, Fang Z, et al. Human gut microbiota changes reveal the progression of glucose intolerance.PLoS One. 2013;8(8):e71108. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071108

22. Derrien M, Van Baarlen P, Hooiveld G, Norin E, M√ľller M, de Vos WM. Modulation of Mucosal Immune Response, Tolerance, and Proliferation in Mice Colonized by the Mucin-Degrader Akkermansia muciniphila.Front Microbiol. 2011;2:166. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2011.00166

23. van der Lugt B, van Beek AA, Aalvink S, et al.Akkermansia muciniphila ameliorates the age-related decline in colonic mucus thickness and attenuates immune activation in accelerated agingErcc1-/őĒ7mice.Immun Ageing. 2019;16:6. doi:10.1186/s12979-019-0145-z

24. Zhou K. Strategies to promote abundance ofAkkermansia muciniphila, an emerging probiotics in the gut, evidence from dietary intervention studies.J Funct Foods. 2017;33:194-201. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2017.03.045

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