The Characteristics of an Akkermansia Bacterium that Differentiate it From Other Gut Flora
Of the many varied microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT), one species of Akkermansia bacterium has been attracting widespread interest. According to a report in the Public Library of Science published in 2016, bacterial cells outnumber the human cells in our bodies by a ratio of ten to one. However, more recent studies propose that the numbers of each tend to be more or less equal. They maintain that an average person, 1,7 metres tall and weighing 70 kilograms, consists of around 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacterial cells.
While bacteria are distributed all over the surface of the human body and help resist invasion by pathogenic species, the population of microbes inhabiting our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiome, forms a complex ecosystem that may influence our health in several ways. Once again, there is some uncertainty regarding estimates of the number of species present in the gut. However, one species of the Akkermansia genus, namely A. muciniphila, seems to be particularly influential to our well-being.
The Unique Role of a Mucin-degrading Species of the Akkermansia Bacterium
Professor Willem M de Vos of the Wageningen University in the Netherlands discovered a new species of the genus Akkermansia in 2004. It was named A. muciniphila due to its unique metabolic requirements. The organism catabolises intestinal mucin as its sole carbon source while simultaneously helping to maintain and replenish the thickness of the mucosal layer. Therefore, unlike other intestinal flora, it is not dependent on the human host for its food supply. Moreover, the breakdown products of this microbe’s nutritional pathway include several short-chain fatty acids. In turn, these compounds make a valuable contribution to the nutrient requirements of other species, maintaining the numbers necessary to ensure healthy gut activity.
It has also been suggested that the number of Akkermansia bacteria present might play a role in gut health and that a deficit can affect several aspects of one’s general health. One such effect has been widely investigated; the relationship between A. muciniphila numbers in the gut and obesity. In addition, the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in obese subjects has been well-established.
A healthy gut promotes the development of a healthy immune function regulating immune responses. A. muciniphila, in particular, appears to contribute to the maintenance of a healthy gut barrier, as a result regulating immunity and reducing inflammation all of which cause several diseases.
The Akkermansia Bacterium Forms Part of an Effective Weight Management* and Glucose Control** Food Supplement
Over-the-counter supplements have long been prescribed to repopulate and balance the composition of intestinal flora. However, a diet consisting mainly of highly processed foods can also disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to excessive weight gain, diabetes and a heightened risk of cardiac disease and stroke.
The Akkermansia Company has developed a food supplement containing pasteurised A. muciniphila, EGCG Green Tea extract, Chromium and Vitamin B2 for weight management* and glucose control**. For more information, click here.