Abstract: Although the effects of diet-induced obesity on the composition of the mammalian gut microbiome has been extensively studied, the vast majority of work investigating these changes in animal models has been performed using only male subjects. However, there are compelling reasons to suspect that there may be key differences between the male and female gut microbiomes, including significantly higher incidents of a number of gastro-intestinal disorders in women. I investigated the effects of a high-fat high-sugar diet on the fecal microbiome of adult female rats; there is also a direct experimental manipulation of estrogen levels, to investigate whether or not peripheral estrogen modulates changes in the gut microbiome that are normally associated with obesity. The results reveal striking differences in the effects of a high-fat high-sugar diet in the presence or absence of peripheral estrogen, and support the emerging view that sex, and reproductive hormone levels, are key biological variables to consider as we seek to more fully describe the mammalian gut microbiome.
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