The beneficial effects of using probiotics in our diets or supplementation have been studied in the last years. Indeed, these studies provide positive information about the multiple benefits we receive from the interaction between the host and bacterial strains. Furthermore, Akkermansia municiphila is one of those strains that have stood up due to its characteristic singularity and vast gastrointestinal and health benefits. Akkermansia municiphila, as part of orthomolecular medicine treatment, improves the mucosal layer integrity and immune response.
Akkermansia municiphila was initially discovered in 2004 at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. This bacterial strain was thought to be anaerobic, but recent studies have reported that it can survive in an aerobic environment, as it tolerates oxygen at a low level. Also, it characterizes as a gram-negative, non-motile bacterium and has an oval shape.
Besides this, A. municiphila is the first and only representative of the species Verrucomicrobia. However, A. municiphila can be classified into three species, each one with different functions.
Akkermansia municiphila’s main characteristics:
- A. municiphila is abundant in the host’s intestinal mucosal layer.
- This bacterial strain could be found in infant’s gut mucosa, as well as in adults.
- The concentration of Akkermansia municiphila seems to decrease in the elderly population.
- Human milk is a carrier for A. municiphila. As such, it can create an acid gut environment and degrade human milk oligosaccharides.
- Akkermansia municiphila has the property to degrade mucin of the intestinal layer.
Clinical studies on Akkermansia municiphila.
Most studies made with Akkermansia municiphila are made animal models due to its mucin degradation feature. However, most studies report that the use of Akkermansia municiphila is safe in humans.
In addition, mucin-derived monosaccharides such as fucose, galactose, and N-acetyl glucosamine can provide optimal fuel for A. municiphila’s growth. Furthermore, other synthetic precursors can promote bacterial growth; therefore, threonine, peptone, and glucose. This last statement ensures the A. municiphila treatment in humans as secure.
- Mucus layer degradation:
A. municiphila has the pathogenicity potential association caused by its process of adhesion and degradation of the mucosal gut layer. However, several reports describe the A. municiphila degrades the outer mucosal layer and does not reach the inner layer. This external mucosal degrading process is attributed to benefit the intestinal self-renewal balance.
Besides this, Akkermansia municiphila is associated with the maintenance of gut microbial balance. Furthermore, the mucosal-degradation process caused by A. municiphila produces beneficial by-products that promote bacterial strain diversity and growth.
- Anti-inflammatory effects:
As gram-negative bacteria, Akkermansia municiphila contains lipopolysaccharide; however, it is not linked to endotoxemia. On the contrary, supplementation treatment of A. municiphila in high-fat-fed mice considerably reduced endotoxin levels.
Some of the immunomodulatory effects of A. municiphila reflect on the regulation of signals from TNF-a and INF-y. In addition, studies report a lower level of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and IL-4. These results suggest that the physician should closely monitor the use of A. municiphila and that further studies need to be performed.
- Interaction with the host
The microbial strains located in the mucosal layer of the host’s intestine intervene in the immune response. In turn, A. municiphila provides advantages to the function of the gut mucosal layer.
Furthermore, the environment provided by the host plays a crucial role in Akkermansia municiphila’s growth. Earlier research performed in ray models reports that this strain rapidly grew after fasting combined with an arabinose supplementation.
Another essential interaction is A. municiphila’s ability to metabolize mucin to propionic acid and promote colonization of beneficial bacterial in the gut’s lumen. In addition, this rapid, healthy microorganism growth results in a better immune response.
Looking for gut microbiota’s diversity?
The best way to treat the gut is by determining what is going on in there. Genova labs provide a wide range of laboratory tests that ensure proper results, which will reflect in the proper treatment.
Akkermansia municiphila studies provide information about the beneficial interaction with the host and the positive results on promoting intestinal balance. However, it seems that it can interact with other bacterial strains and produce detrimental pathogenic effects. In addition, in the presence of malnutrition and medications, it can have an overgrowth. When we talk about gut health, balance is everything. Determining our microbial diversity is critical when treating gastrointestinal and immune conditions. – Ana Paola Rodríguez Arciniega, MS.
Zhang, Ting et al. “Akkermansia muciniphila is a promising probiotic.” Microbial biotechnology vol. 12,6 (2019): 1109-1125. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.13410
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
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