In case you weren’t already convinced that researchers’ have gone “bug” crazy due to the explosion of articles on the microbiome, there’s even more exciting updates this month. If you don’t know what the microbiome is yet, I invite you to learn more about the little critters that reside in your insides (and outsides). They are linked to many health outcomes and actually communicate with our cells and modulate our biochemistry. Scientists have made connections between the population of bugs that we cart around and how they are correlated to and connected with many disease outcomes as well as how manipulating them with probiotics, diet, and lifestyle impacts our wellness. In fact, the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project is currently undertaking massive research initiatives to learn more about the genetic population of microbes that makeup a healthy human.
Now, hereare some fascinating studies on the latest insights in the tiny world of creepy-crawlers:
More Evidence That the Gut Microbiome Affects Immune Response
In a recent study published in EBioMedicine, researchers reported on the correlation between bacterial activity and how it relates to HIV activity and the response to treatment. One of the researchers in Science Daily stated:
“The make-up and behaviour of the gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretrovirals are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretrovirals is because their immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling bacteria,” adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y Cajal.
Here is the abstract:
While changes in gut microbial populations have been described in human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), the mechanisms underlying the contributions of gut bacteria and their molecular agents (metabolites and proteins) to immune recovery remain unexplored. To study this, we examined the active fraction of the gut microbiome, through examining protein synthesis and accumulation of metabolites inside gut bacteria and in the bloodstream, in 8 healthy controls and 29 HIV-infected individuals (6 being longitudinally studied). We found that HIV infection is associated to dramatic changes in the active set of gut bacteria simultaneously altering the metabolic outcomes. Effects were accentuated among immunological ART responders, regardless diet, subject characteristics, clinical variables other than immune recovery, the duration and type of ART and sexual preferences. The effect was found at quantitative levels of several molecular agents and active bacteria which were herein identified and whose abundance correlated with HIV immune pathogenesis markers. Although, we cannot rule out the possibility that some changes are partially a random consequence of the disease status, our data suggest that most likely reduced inflammation and immune recovery is a joint solution orchestrated by both the active fraction of the gut microbiota and the host.
This study was fascinating, as it examined not only the population of microbes in the stool, but their metabolic alterations and the difference between responders to treatment and nonresponders as compared to controls.
In another study, researchers found a correlation between certain microbe populations in infants and their risk for allergies and asthma later in life. It appears that the guts of at-risk babies were missing the key immune lipids that modulate inflammation.
Interestingly, a related study with rodents demonstrated how intestinal bacteria interact with a receptor of the immune system that effects the intensity of allergic responses. The researchers also found that when this receptor was absent in rodents, certain bacteria were still able to override the allergic response and normalize the immune response.
More Evidence that Microbes Are Associated with Obesity
Whether it’s a metabolic consequence of obesity, the manipulation of diet modulating bacteria population, or environmental exposures, more proof of the link between obesity and bugs was found in two studies recently. One study found an increased risk for childhood obesity in babies born via cesarean sections, in which the newborn does not receive an inoculation of microbes through the vaginal canal. Another enormous study undertaking on the antibiotic-obesity connection was reported on in Science Daily. Researchers have begun the process of gathering data by searching through records of 1.6 million kids and will be correlating and reporting on how prescriptions of antibiotics in the first two years of life are linked to weight gain at ages five and 10 years.
Finally, another study found that exposure to the “sterile” ICU environment caused people to lose their gut bugs, putting the at risk for various health imbalances. Health Day reported:
Intensive care patients have a significant loss of helpful gut bacteria within days of entering the hospital, a new study finds. These bacteria help keep people well. Losing them puts patients at risk for hospital-acquired infections that may lead to sepsis, organ failure and even death, according to the researchers.
For the study, the investigators analyzed gut bacteria from 115 intensive care unit (ICU) patients at four hospitals in the United States and Canada. Measurements were taken 48 hours after admission and after either 10 days in the ICU or leaving the hospital. Compared with healthy people, the ICU patients had lower levels of helpful bacteria and higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria, the findings showed.
“The results were what we feared them to be. We saw a massive depletion of normal, health-promoting species,” study leader Dr. Paul Wischmeyer said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is moving to Duke University in the fall.
The microbes living in our body are providing the links we’ve been looking for in the mechanisms of how all different diseases are connected. Importantly, simple measures like eating healthy diets, exercise, decreasing stress, and taking the right probiotics are simple ways to mitigate the risk of various diseases due to fact that these measures take care of the critters your letting live rent-free in your insides!
Asociación RUVID. Gut bacteria affect immune recovery in HIV patients, study finds. ScienceDaily. 5 September 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160905114800.htm.
Serrano- Villar S, Rojo D, Martínez-Martínez M, Deusch S, JF Vázquez-Castellanos, Bargiel J, et al. Gut Bacteria Metabolism Impacts Immune Recovery in HIV-infected Individuals. EBioMedicine, 2016; 8: 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.033
Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Swelling obesity rates may be tied to childhood antibiotic use. ScienceDaily. 30 August 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830084458.htm.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cesarean delivery may lead to increased risk of obesity among offspring. ScienceDaily. September 6, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906130952.htm.
Preidt R. Patients May Quickly Lose Beneficial Gut Bacteria in the ICU. Health Day. August 31, 2016.https://consumer.healthday.com/caregiving-information-6/intensive-care-979/icu-patients-gut-bacteria-msphere-release-batch-2849-714373.html
University of California – San Francisco. Newborn gut microbiome predicts later allergy and asthma, study finds: Microbial byproducts link particular early-life gut microbes to immune dysfunction. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160912122348.htm
Technical University of Munich (TUM). Intestinal bacteria influence food allergies: Composition of gut microbiota and immune system are closely interwoven. ScienceDaily. September 12, 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160907125125.htm