role of Akkermansia muciniphila
deco bulles rouges

The role of Akkermansia muciniphila
in the mucus layer

Akkermansia muciniphila acts as a guardian of the intestinal barrier function through its unique mucus-degrading abilities and its location within the mucus layer. Because it uses mucin as the sole source of nutrients, Akkermansia muciniphila is sometimes considered as a “mucin-degrading” bacterium. However, it can be involved in a positive feedback loop. In this loop, it stimulates mucin production through mucin degradation, renewing the mucus layer. In a healthy human gut, these bacteria maintain mucus production and thickness, thus preventing the invasion of pathogenic bacteria. When Akkermansia muciniphila processes mucin, it releases the following components as by-products of this fermentation:
  • short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as propionate and acetate
  • amino acids
  • important factors, and
  • vitamins as by-products of this fermentation.

This makes them accessible to the host and other gut bacteria. Because it supplies nutrients to other gut bacteria, Akkermansia muciniphila can be considered a keystone species. This bacterium is often associated with a good gut barrier function, even though it feeds on mucin. Moreover, supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila has been associated with a restoration of the gut barrier function in mouse models of obesity. Indeed, optimal Akkermansia muciniphila levels:
  • maintain the normal permeability of the gut;
  • prevent pro-inflammatory toxins from entering the bloodstream;
  • prevent chronic tissue inflammation (e.g. in liver and fat tissues) involved in metabolic disorders.