Short Communication

International Journal of Obesity (2010) 34, 1095–1098; doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.44; published online 9 March 2010

Gut microbiome-derived metabolites characterize a peculiar obese urinary metabotype

R Calvani1, A Miccheli2, G Capuani2, A Tomassini Miccheli2, C Puccetti2, M Delfini2, A Iaconelli1, G Nanni3 and G Mingrone1

  1. 1Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Department of Chemistry, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  3. 3Department of Surgery, Catholic University, Rome, Italy

Correspondence: Dr A Miccheli, Dipartimento di Chimica, Sapienza Università di Roma, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy. E-mail:

Received 24 September 2009; Revised 8 December 2009; Accepted 4 January 2010; Published online 9 March 2010.



Obesity is a complex multifactorial disease involving genetic and environmental factors and influencing several different metabolic pathways. In this regard, metabonomics, that is the study of complex metabolite profiles in biological samples, may provide a systems approach to understand the global metabolic regulation of the organism in relation to this peculiar pathology. In this pilot study, we have applied a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomic approach on urinary samples of morbidly obese subjects. Urine samples of 15 morbidly obese insulin-resistant (body mass index>40; homeostasis assessment model of insulin resistance>3) male patients and 10 age-matched controls were collected, frozen and analyzed by high-resolution 1H-NMR spectroscopy combined with partial least squares-discriminant analysis. Furthermore, two obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery (biliopancreatic diversion and gastric bypass, respectively) were monitored during the first 3 months after surgery and their urinary metabolic profiles were characterized. NMR-based metabolomic analysis allowed us to identify an obesity-associated metabolic phenotype (metabotype) that differs from that of lean controls. Gut flora-derived metabolites such as hippuric acid, trigonelline, 2-hydroxyisobutyrate and xanthine contributed most to the classification model and were responsible for the discrimination. These preliminary results confirmed that in humans the gut microflora metabolism is strongly linked to the obesity phenotype. Moreover, the typical obese metabotype is lost after weight loss induced by bariatric surgery.


NMR-based metabolomics; metabolic profiling; bariatric surgery



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