Species in the genus Bacteroides carry out broad metabolic functions, including degradation of complex plant polysaccharides, proteolytic activities, de-conjugation of bile acids, mucosal barrier integrity, short chain fatty acid production, fatty acid storage and glucose metabolism. Bacteroides spp. are maintained at a higher abundance in breastfed individuals into adulthood. Bacteroides fragilis plays an important role in the prevention of intestinal inflammation. An energy-restricted diet has been shown to increase B. fragilis
in overweight adolescents. An increase in B. stercoris has been associated with higher risk of colon cancer. Decreased levels of Bacteroides spp. have been reported in association with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.
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