New research investigates the link between the microbial profile of the gut and the development of multiple sclerosis. While this link has been noted before, researchers now focus on the specific role played by some microbes in promoting this condition. An estimated 2.3 million people around the world are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease characterized by a "misfiring" of the immune system - a process in which myelin, the insulation around nerves, is perceived as a "foreign body" and erroneously attacked. Unfortunately, despite its high prevalence, little is known about what causes MS and there is currently no cure. Treatments are largely symptomatic, aimed at facilitating the management of the condition. Previous research has pointed out that people diagnosed with MS have a specific gut microbial profile, showing that some bacteria are more abundant in the guts of people with MS while the levels of other bacteria are unusually low. A new … [Read more...] about Multiple sclerosis: What role do gut microbes play?
New research explains why the same high-fat diet affects people differently. The team found that they could predict which mice would gain more weight and develop glucose intolerance after switching to a high-fat diet by using gut microbe signatures that were present before the switch. In a paper published in Cell Reports, researchers from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and INSERM UMRS 1138 in Paris, France, among others, describe how they used genetically similar mice to show that gut microbes influence the body's response to changes in diet and affect health. If further research finds that the effect is also true of humans, the researchers believe that it could lead to doctors prescribing personalized diets for patients based on the unique composition of their gut flora. "We know that our environment and genetics can influence our risk of obesity and disease, but the effects of these communities of bacteria living inside us are less well understood," says study … [Read more...] about Gut microbes influence the body’s response to high-fat diet
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects millions of people in the United States. The condition is often not detected until it is well advanced, and a definitive diagnosis requires an invasive biopsy of the liver. One subtype can lead to severe liver cirrhosis and cancer. Now, promising results from a preliminary study set the stage for a noninvasive test that only requires a stool sample. The test examines the makeup of gut microbes in the stool sample. The study - by researchers from the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues from Human Longevity, Inc. in San Diego and the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, both in California - is published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it is "one of the most common causes of liver disease in the U.S." NAFLD is a different condition to … [Read more...] about Fatty liver: Diagnosis of advanced fibrosis from stool microbes shows promise
If your New Year's resolution is to adopt a healthful diet, you shouldn't expect to see immediate effects; your gut microbes might not let you. In a new study, researchers found that the diversity of gut microbiota - the population of microbes that reside in the digestive tracts - is altered by a typical Western diet. Furthermore, the study reveals that a gut microbiome that has been conditioned by a Western diet may weaken the effects of a healthful, calorie-restricted, and plant-based diet. Senior study author Jeffrey Gordon, director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), and colleagues publish their findings in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. A Western diet - sometimes referred to as the "American standard diet" - is typically defined as one that is low in fruits, vegetables, seafood, poultry, and whole grains, but high in red meats, carbohydrates, saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods. Studies have … [Read more...] about Dieting? Your gut microbes might delay the benefits
Although the interaction between our brain and gut has been studied for years, its complexities run deeper than initially thought. It seems that our minds are, in some part, controlled by the bacteria in our bowels. The gut has defenses against pathogens, but, at the same time, it encourages the survival and growth of "healthy" gut bacteria. The vast majority of these single-celled visitors are based in the colon, where no less than 1 trillion reside in each gram of intestinal content. Estimating the number of bacterial guests in our gut is challenging; to date, the best guess is that 40 trillion bacteria call our intestines home - partially dependent on the size of your last bowel movement (poop's major ingredient is bacteria). To put that unwieldy number into perspective, our bodies consist of roughly 30 trillion cells. So, in a very real sense, we are more bacteria than man. Most of our gut bacteria belong to 30 or 40 species, but there can be up to 1,000 different species … [Read more...] about Gut bacteria and the brain: Are we controlled by microbes?
In a paper published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, scientists describe how health is compromised when we reduce the diversity of nutrients in our diet - because of the effect this has on the richness of our gut microbe population. Mark Heiman, from MicroBiome Therapeutics in New Orleans, LA, and Frank Greenway, from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, explain that over the last 50 years, by reducing agro-diversity, changes in farming have reduced dietary diversity. More and more research is revealing the important role that the vast colonies of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract play in health and disease. Healthy people, note the authors, have a diverse range of species in these gut microbe populations - collectively referred to as the gut microbiome - while many of our 21st century diseases - such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease - are linked to reductions in this richness. Scientists are beginning to … [Read more...] about Diverse diets enrich gut microbes
Serotonin is probably best known as a brain chemical that affects emotions and behavior, an imbalance of which is thought to contribute to depression. Less well-known is that scientists estimate 90% of serotonin is made in the gut, and imbalances in this peripheral serotonin have been linked to diseases ranging from irritable bowel syndrome and cardiovascular disease, to osteoporosis. Now, researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena report a study in the journal Cell that shows certain bacteria in the gut play an important role in the production of peripheral serotonin. Senior author Elaine Hsiao, research assistant professor of biology and biological engineering at Caltech, says studies of mice and other lab animals are increasingly showing that changes in gut microbes affect behavior. She explains that she and her colleagues were interested in finding out more about how gut microbes and the nervous system talk to each other, and: "To … [Read more...] about Gut microbes important for serotonin production
mBio sheds insight on the conditions under which cystic fibrosis (CF) microbes can survive, specifically insight into a range of pathogens involved in the disease. Researchers used micro-sensors—that are normally used in environmental research—to measure high resolution profiles of oxygen and sulfide levels. They used the micro-sensors of 48 fresh sputum samples from 22 children who were living with CF, and who were cared for at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. They discovered that the samples had a very thin layer of oxygen at the surface, but most of them were depleted of oxygen. Researchers only found oxygen at the very narrow interface between the air and the samples. According to the study’s senior co-author Wiebke Ziebis, “It’s not only a stratified environment, with different microbial communities at different depths of the sputum, but also temporarily dynamic—there were differences not only between patients but also at different … [Read more...] about Study Sheds Light on How Cystic Fibrosis Microbes Survive
Previous studies on jetlag and working night shifts have linked metabolism with the circadian rhythms—the rhythms that control daily mental and physical functions. However, in a new study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, researchers from the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory suggest that gut microbes can also play a vital role in metabolism and circadian rhythms—in mice. The gut microbiome is a set of fungi, viruses and bacteria that is essential for digestion; it affects mental health, allergies, metabolism and an individual’s weight. In the study, researchers discovered that mice with normal gut bacteria showed a regular microbial cycle on a daily basis. In this cycle, different bacterial species’ thrived at various parts of the day and produced different compounds. The compounds affected the activity of the circadian clock genes in the liver. As a result, a high-fat diet reduced … [Read more...] about Gut Microbes Affect Metabolism and Circadian Rhythms in Mice, Study
You may have heard recently that red wine and coffee have been linked to having a healthier or more diverse amount of gut bacteria. The headlines are the result of a Dutch and Belgian study that each sought to try and narrow down various factors that could influence your intestinal microbiome. The data is interesting and definitely has potential, but this is a very good example of putting the cart before the horse and highlights a number of pitfalls inherent to trying to understand how your intestinal bacteria influences your health. The Dutch study looked at 1,135 adults from the Netherlands and the Belgian study looked at 1,106 adult Belgians Fecal samples were taken from participants and lifestyle and dietary questionnaires were administered The samples were then sequenced to identify various bacteria levels, which were then compared with many different factors to test for correlations The Dutch study found around 126 different factors showed a correlation to gut flora levels, … [Read more...] about Gut Microbe Studies Give Squishy Conclusions on Red Wine and Coffee