Gut microbiota suppress feeding induced by palatable foods: Current Biology
Feeding behaviors depend on intrinsic and extrinsic factors including genetics, food palatability, and the environment. The gut microbiota is a major environmental contributor to host physiology and impacts feeding behavior. Here, we explored the hypothesis that gut bacteria influence behavioral responses to palatable foods and reveal that antibiotic depletion (ABX) of the gut microbiota in mice results in overconsumption of several palatable foods with conserved effects on feeding dynamics. Gut microbiota restoration via fecal transplant into ABX mice is sufficient to rescue overconsumption of high-sucrose pellets. Operant conditioning tests found that ABX mice exhibit intensified motivation to pursue high-sucrose rewards. Accordingly, neuronal activity in mesolimbic brain regions, which have been linked with motivation and reward-seeking behavior, was elevated in ABX mice after consumption of high-sucrose pellets. Differential antibiotic treatment and functional microbiota transplants identified specific gut bacterial taxa from the family S24-7 and the genus Lactobacillus whose abundances associate with suppression of high-sucrose pellet consumption. Indeed, colonization of mice with S24-7 and Lactobacillus johnsonii was sufficient to reduce overconsumption of high-sucrose pellets in an antibiotic-induced model of binge eating. These results demonstrate that extrinsic influences from the gut microbiota can suppress the behavioral response toward palatable foods in mice.