MAY 28, 2018 3:13 PM PDT

Bacterial Toxin Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The gut is home to a community of microbes, the microbiome, which plays a major role in human health and disease. While some of those bacteria and microorganisms are beneficial, others can pose problems. New research has indicated that a common toxin made by the common intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli, microcin B17, is connected to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a collection of illnesses that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. An international group of researchers from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, USA have reported these findings in Cell.

E. coli bacteria / Image credit: Pixnio

The work was the result of a serendipitous observation made while scientists were trying to develop new antibiotics. It will open up new treatment avenues for IBD patients. E. coli typically makes microcin B17 toxin to battle and dominate other bacteria. 

“This is largely a chance finding. We have been studying this toxin for its antibacterial properties, and we were contacted by Professor Richard Blumberg who leads the Boston group for quite different reasons - they thought there might be a connection between the toxin and IBD,” explained Professor Tony Maxwell.

The investigators collaborated to show that as the toxin breaks down, the byproducts that are created can cause inflammation in the gut, which is a big factor in IBD. In addition, the study found that one type of aromatic organic compounds, the oxazole class, is a trigger of gastrointestinal inflammation that is caused by microbes and the environment. 

“These findings will advance our understanding of how gut inflammation associated with IBD may be triggered and offer new hope of potential future therapy,” said Dr. Fred Collin, a postdoctoral fellow who was a key part of the research in Professor Maxwell's lab.

Genetic tools like genome-wide association studies, which identify links between changes in genes and physiological conditions, have helped elucidate some of the genetic causes of IBD. Environmental contributions and patient reactions have not been clearly defined yet. 

"The bacteria that live inside us have a lot of impact on well-being and the twist here is that it's not the E. coli bacteria but the toxin that's produced by the bacteria that appears to have an effect," explained Maxwell. "They produce these toxins to kill their neighbors in their fight for ecological niches but it appears that the breakdown products of the toxin can initiate gut inflammation," he added.

This work adds to the growing body of evidence illustrating the connection between the microbes in our gastrointestinal system and our health. Learn more about the gut microbiome from the video.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via John Innes Centre, Cell

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 07, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 07, 2019
A Revealing Look at Rare Disease Incidence
Being diagnosed with a rare disease can be especially terrifying for patients. After all, many of these diseases have no treatment options. This is because
NOV 26, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 26, 2019
Cannabis Provides Relief from Headache and Migraine Pain
Innovative technology allowed researchers to conduct the first-ever study of cannabis use for the treatment of headache and migraine pain in real-time. Wit
DEC 28, 2019
Microbiology
DEC 28, 2019
A DNA Star That Can Detect Dengue Virus
Like origami paper, DNA molecules can be folded and arranged into complex three-dimensional structures.
MAR 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAR 03, 2020
Singapore charges ahead with antibody-based test for COVID-19
Researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to put an end to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak’s continued global esca
MAR 05, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 05, 2020
Human Stem Cells Cure Type 1 Diabetes in Mice
In the US alone, around 187,000 children and adolescents have Type 1 diabetes, alongside 1.4 million people aged 20 and over. Managing their condition with
APR 01, 2020
Cardiology
APR 01, 2020
Avoiding Caries in Children
Thankfully, children are free of many of the chronic diseases that plague older populations. That said, one of the most common chronic diseases children do
Loading Comments...