Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisae antibodies (ASCA) are associated with body fat mass and systemic inflammation, but not with dietary yeast consumption: a cross-sectional study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Baker’s/brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has been used as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters to improve growth performance in animals. In humans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is among the most commonly detected fungi in fecal samples and likely originates from food. Recently, an association between anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) and obesity in humans was suggested, but the cause of the elevated ASCA levels is not clear. Our aim was to study ASCA in morbidly obese subjects and explore potential associations with anthropometrics, diet, co-morbidities and biomarkers of inflammation and gut permeability. Methods Subjects with morbid obesity referred to a specialized hospital unit were included. Diet and clinical data were recorded with self-administered questionnaires. Main dietary sources of baker’s/brewer’s yeast (e.g. bread and beer) were used as a proxy for the intake of yeast. Laboratory analyses included ASCA, serum zonulin (reflecting gut permeability), C-reactive protein and a routine haematological and biochemical screening. Results One-hundred-and-forty subjects; 109 (78%) female, 98 with dietary records, mean age 43 years and BMI 42 kg/m2 were included. The number of ASCA positive subjects was 31 (22%) for IgG, 4 (2.9%) for IgA and 3 (2.1%) for IgM. Age, body fat mass and C-reactive protein were significantly higher in IgG-positive compared to IgG-negative subjects (P < 0.05). A borderline significant association was found between elevated zonulin and ASCA IgG-positivity (P = 0.06). No association was found between yeast-containing food and ASCA IgG-positivity, or between yeast-containing food and fat mass. Conclusions The findings indicate that ASCA IgG-positivity may be linked to the generalized inflammation commonly seen with increased adiposity, but not to dietary yeast intake. Other potential causes for the raised ASCA IgG concentrations, such as genetic predisposition, deviations in the gut microbiota and cross-reactivity of ASCA with other antigens, were not explored.