Anorexia nervosa (AN) results in gut dysbiosis, but whether the dysbiosis contributes to AN-specific pathologies such as poor weight gain and neuropsychiatric abnormalities remains unclear. To address this, germ-free mice were reconstituted with the microbiota of four patients with restricting-type AN (gAN mice) and four healthy control individuals (gHC mice). The effects of gut microbes on weight gain and behavioral characteristics were examined. Fecal microbial profiles in recipient gnotobiotic mice were clustered with those of the human donors. Compared with gHC mice, gAN mice showed a decrease in body weight gain, concomitant with reduced food intake. Food efficiency ratio (body weight gain/food intake) was also significantly lower in gAN mice than in gHC mice, suggesting that decreased appetite as well as the capacity to convert ingested food to unit of body substance may contribute to poor weight gain. Both anxiety-related behavior measured by open-field tests and compulsive behavior measured by a marble-burying test were increased only in gAN mice but not in gHC mice. Serotonin levels in the brain stem of gAN mice were lower than those in the brain stem of gHC mice. Moreover, the genus Bacteroides showed the highest correlation with the number of buried marbles among all genera identified. Administration of Bacteroides vulgatus reversed compulsive behavior but failed to exert any substantial effect on body weight. Collectively, these results indicate that AN-specific dysbiosis may contribute to both poor weight gain and mental disorders in patients with AN.
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