Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Omega-3 fatty acids prevent early-life antibiotic exposure-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis and later-life obesity


Early-life antibiotic exposure can disrupt the founding intestinal microbial community and lead to obesity later in life. Recent studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce body weight gain and chronic inflammation through modulation of the gut microbiota. We hypothesize that increased tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids may prevent antibiotic-induced alteration of gut microbiota and obesity later in life. Here, we utilize the fat-1 transgenic mouse model, which can endogenously produce omega-3 fatty acids and thereby eliminates confounding factors of diet, to show that elevated tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce body weight gain and the severity of insulin resistance, fatty liver and dyslipidemia resulting from early-life exposure to azithromycin. These effects were associated with a reversal of antibiotic-induced dysbiosis of gut microbiota in fat-1 mice. These results demonstrate the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids on antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis and obesity, and suggest the potential utility of omega-3 supplementation as a safe and effective means for the prevention of obesity in children who are exposed to antibiotics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1
Figure 2


  1. Trasande L, Blustein J, Liu M, Corwin E, Cox LM, Blaser MJ . Infant antibiotic exposures and early-life body mass. Int J Obes 2013; 37: 16–23.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Arnal M-E, Zhang J, Erridge C, Smidt H, Lallès J-P . Maternal antibiotic-induced early changes in microbial colonization selectively modulate colonic permeability and inducible heat shock proteins, and digesta concentrations of alkaline phosphatase and tlr-stimulants in swine offspring. PLoS ONE 2015; 10: e0118092.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Hersh AL, Shapiro DJ, Pavia AT, Shah SS . Antibiotic prescribing in ambulatory pediatrics in the United States. Pediatrics 2011; 128: 1053–1061.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Saiman L, Anstead M, Mayer-Hamblett N, Lands LC, Kloster M, Hocevar-Trnka J et al. Effect of azithromycin on pulmonary function in patients with cystic fibrosis uninfected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2010; 303: 1707–1715.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Chassaing B, Gewirtz AT . Gut microbiota, low-grade inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. Toxicol Pathol 2014; 42: 49–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Tremaroli V, Backhed F . Functional interactions between the gut microbiota and host metabolism. Nature 2012; 489: 242–249.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Wlodarska M, Willing B, Keeney KM, Menendez A, Bergstrom KS, Gill N et al. Antibiotic treatment alters the colonic mucus layer and predisposes the host to exacerbated Citrobacter rodentium-induced colitis. Infect Immun 2011; 79: 1536–1545.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Patterson E, O' Doherty RM, Murphy EF, Wall R, O' Sullivan O, Nilaweera K et al. Impact of dietary fatty acids on metabolic activity and host intestinal microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice. Br J Nutr 2014; 111: 1905–1917.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Kaliannan K, Wang B, Li XY, Kim KJ, Kang JX . A host–microbiome interaction mediates the opposing effects of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids on metabolic endotoxemia. Sci Rep 2015; 5: 11276.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Liu T, Hougen H, Vollmer AC, Hiebert SM . Gut bacteria profiles of Mus musculus at the phylum and family levels are influenced by saturation of dietary fatty acids. Anaerobe 2012; 18: 331–337.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Cao ZJ, Yu JC, Kang WM, Ma ZQ, Ye X, Tian SB . Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on gut microbiota and endotoxin levels in portal vein of rats fed with high-fat diet. Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao 2014; 36: 496–500.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Kang JX, Wang J, Wu L, Kang ZB . Transgenic mice: fat-1 mice convert n-6 to n-3 fatty acids. Nature 2004; 427: 504.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Jaeggi T, Kortman GA, Moretti D, Chassard C, Holding P, Dostal A et al. Iron fortification adversely affects the gut microbiome, increases pathogen abundance and induces intestinal inflammation in Kenyan infants. Gut 2015; 64: 731–742.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Mahowald MA, Magrini V, Mardis ER, Gordon JI . An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature 2006; 444: 1027–1031.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Sasaki M, Ogasawara N, Funaki Y, Mizuno M, Iida A, Goto C et al. Transglucosidase improves the gut microbiota profile of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients: a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Gastroenterol 2013; 13: 81.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Cani PD, Bibiloni R, Knauf C, Waget A, Neyrinck AM, Delzenne NM et al. Changes in gut microbiota control metabolic endotoxemia-induced inflammation in high-fat diet-induced obesity and diabetes in mice. Diabetes 2008; 57: 1470–1481.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by the generous funding from Sansun Life Sciences and the Fortune Education Foundation. We are also grateful to Marina Kang for her editorial assistance and Amy Goodale for her experimental assistance.

Author Contributions

JXK and KK designed the study; KK, BW, X-YL, and AKB performed experiments; KK and JXK analyzed data and wrote the paper.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to J X Kang.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on International Journal of Obesity website

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kaliannan, K., Wang, B., Li, XY. et al. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent early-life antibiotic exposure-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis and later-life obesity. Int J Obes 40, 1039–1042 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links