Lifestyle habits, host gene repertoire, and alterations in the intestinal microbiota concur to the development of obesity. A great deal of research has recently been focused on investigating the role gut microbiota plays in the pathogenesis of metabolic dysfunctions and increased adiposity. Altered microbiota can affect host physiology through several pathways, including enhanced energy harvest, and perturbations in immunity, metabolic signaling, and inflammatory pathways. A broad range of "omics" technologies is now available to help decipher the interactions between the host and the gut microbiota at detailed genetic and functional levels. In particular, metabolomics--the comprehensive analysis of metabolite composition of biological fluids and tissues--could provide breakthrough insights into the links among the gut microbiota, host genetic repertoire, and diet during the development and progression of obesity. Here, we briefly review the most insightful findings on the involvement of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of obesity. We also discuss how metabolomic approaches based on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy could help understand the activity of gut microbiota in relation to obesity, and assess the effects of gut microbiota modulation in the treatment of this condition.
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