Bariatric surgery alters mitochondrial function in gut mucosa

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Surgical Endoscopy


Background: The obesity pandemic has worsened global disease burden, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Metabolic/bariatric surgery (MBS) is the most effective and durable obesity treatment, but the mechanisms underlying its long-term weight loss efficacy remain unclear. MBS drives substrate oxidation that has been linked to improvements in metabolic function and improved glycemic control that are potentially mediated by mitochondria—a primary site of energy production. As such, augmentation of intestinal mitochondrial function may drive processes underlying the systemic metabolic benefits of MBS. Herein, we applied a highly sensitive technique to evaluate intestinal mitochondrial function ex vivo in a mouse model of MBS. Methods: Mice were randomized to surgery, sham, or non-operative control. A simplified model of MBS, ileal interposition, was performed by interposition of a 2-cm segment of terminal ileum into the proximal bowel 5 mm from the ligament of Treitz. After a four-week recovery period, intestinal mucosa of duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and interposed ileum were assayed for determination of mitochondrial respiratory function. Citrate synthase activity was measured as a marker of mitochondrial content. Results: Ileal interposition was well tolerated and associated with modest body weight loss and transient hypophagia relative to controls. Mitochondrial capacity declined in the native duodenum and jejunum of animals following ileal interposition relative to controls, although respiration remained unchanged in these segments. Similarly, ileal interposition lowered citrate synthase activity in the duodenum and jejunum following relative to controls but ileal function remained constant across all groups. Conclusion: Ileal interposition decreases mitochondrial volume in the proximal intestinal mucosa of mice. This change in concentration with preserved respiration suggests a global mucosal response to segment specific nutrition signals in the distal bowel. Future studies are required to understand the causes underlying these mitochondrial changes.

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