Intestinal methane production in obese individuals is associated with a higher body mass index

GI Motility Program, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Gastroenterology and Hepatology 01/2012; 8(1):22-8.
Source: PubMed


Obesity is an epidemic that affects 1 in 3 individuals in the United States, and recent evidence suggests that enteric microbiota may play a significant role in the development of obesity. This study evaluated the association between methanogenic archaea and obesity in human subjects.
Subjects with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m² or higher were prospectively recruited from the weight loss program of a tertiary care medical center. Subjects who met the study's inclusion criteria were asked to complete a questionnaire that included a series of visual analogue scores for bowel symptom severities. Subjects then provided a single end-expiratory breath sample to quantitate methane levels. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine associations with BMI.
A total of 58 patients qualified for enrollment. Twenty percent of patients (n = 12) had breath test results that were positive for methane (>3 parts per million [ppm]), with a mean breath methane concentration of 12.2±3.1 ppm. BMI was significantly higher in methane-positive subjects (45.2±2.3 kg/m²) than in methane-negative subjects (38.5±0.8 kg/m²; P=.001). Methane-positive subjects also had a greater severity of constipation than methane-negative subjects (21.3±6.4 vs 9.5±2.4; P=.043). Multiple regression analysis illustrated a significant association between BMI and methane, constipation, and antidepressant use. However, methane remained an independent predictor of elevated BMI when controlling for antidepressant use (P<.001) and when controlling for both constipation and antidepressant use (6.55 kg/m² greater BMI; P=.003).
This is the first human study to demonstrate that a higher concentration of methane detected by breath testing is a predictor of significantly greater obesity in overweight subjects.

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Available from: Edy Soffer, Oct 06, 2014
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    • "Subjects with a breath CH 4 concentration above 1 ppmv of the atmospheric value were denoted as breath CH 4 producers (Bond et al 1971) or high emitters. As the laboratory air had a CH 4 concentration ratio of around 2 ± 0.1 ppmv the threshold was set to 3 ppmv, a value which is in agreement with the majority of previous studies (e.g.Basseri et al 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Mammalian formation of methane (methanogenesis) is widely considered to occur exclusively by anaerobic microbial activity in the gastrointestinal tract. Approximately one third of humans, depending on colonization of the gut by methanogenic archaea, are considered methane producers based on the classification terminology of high and low emitters. In this study laser absorption spectroscopy was used to precisely measure concentrations and stable carbon isotope signatures of exhaled methane in breath samples from 112 volunteers with an age range from 1 to 80 years. Here we provide analytical evidence that volunteers exhaled methane levels were significantly above background (inhaled) air. Furthermore, stable carbon isotope values of the exhaled methane unambiguously confirmed that this gas was produced by all of the human subjects studied. Based on the emission and stable carbon isotope patterns of various age groups we hypothesize that next to microbial sources in the gastrointestinal tracts there might be other, as yet unidentified, processes involved in methane formation supporting the idea that humans might also produce methane endogenously in cells. Finally we suggest that stable isotope measurements of volatile organic compounds such as methane might become a useful tool in future medical research diagnostic programs.
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    • "Undoubtedly, stressful life events have also been associated with an increased frequency of functional constipation [129]; however, this does not remove microbes from playing an important role in the modulation of gut motility and any potential systemic health consequences of chronic constipation. As discussed later, methane-producing intestinal microbes have been linked with constipation and are now emerging as a key part of reflex contraction and altered motility in IBS [130-133]. As we will discuss in Part III, beneficial microbes have recently been shown to reduce physio-behavioral signs associated with colorectal distention. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mental health disorders, depression in particular, have been described as a global epidemic. Research suggests that a variety of lifestyle and environmental changes may be driving at least some portion of the increased prevalence. One area of flourishing research involves the relationship between the intestinal microbiota (as well as the related functional integrity of the gastrointestinal tract) and mental health. In order to appreciate the recent scientific gains in this area, and its potential future directions, it is critical to review the history of the topic. Probiotic administration (e.g. Lactobacillus) and fecal microbiota transfer for conditions associated with depression and anxiety is not a new concept. Here, in the first of a 3-part series, we begin by reviewing the origins of the contemporary research, providing a critical appraisal of what has become a revisionist history of the controversial term 'autointoxication'. We argue that legitimate interests in the gut-brain-microbiota connection were obscured for decades by its association with a narrow historical legacy. Historical perspectives provide a very meaningful context to the current state of the contemporary research as outlined in parts II and III.
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