DEC 04, 2015 12:53 PM PST

How the Immune System Impacts Gut Microbiota Evolution

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
In a novel study demonstrating the influence of the immune system on gut bacteria evolution, scientists from the Insitito Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC) in Portugal have made a solid case for the use of personalized medicine for immunocompromised patients with intestinal problems.

Our gut bacteria, also called "good bacteria" and the "human microbiome," help the body with digestion in many ways. As we ingest different things, our gut bacteria adapt and evolve to "efficiently cope with different stimuli." In addition, our immune system constantly keeps track of the bacterial diversity to prevent disease due to a disruption of gut homeostasis. Scientists noticed that immunocompromised people experience a change in gut bacteria composition and saw that as a consequence, the gut bacteria adapt differently than in immunocompetent people. 

The team from IGC used mice models to investigate exactly how healthy mice versus mice without immune cells adapt to their diet. They used Escherichia coli (E. coli), one of the very first microbes to colonize the intestine at birth (also a common cause of food poisoning) to observe the differences in gut bacteria evolution between the two groups of mice. 

As expected, the mice with no immune defense were slower in their metabolic adaption to their diet, while healthy mice adapted normally. Their findings were published this week in Nature Communications

"We observed that this feature is due to changes in the composition of the community of bacteria in the intestine, which is more similar across individuals with a healthy immune system, and is quite diverse in animals with an immune compromised system," explained Joao Batista, PhD student and first author of the study.

Since the immune system is so closely tied to gut microbiota composition and evolution, the IGC scientists concluded that general therapies for treating intestinal diseases are not effective for people with compromised immune systems. Rather personalized therapies, developed on a case-to-case basis, should be used to treat for conditions arising as a cause of an impaired immune system. People will need a unique concoction of medicine specifically tuned to their specific gut bacteria composition. 

Watch the following video to learn more about irritable bowel disease, a common intestinal disease resulting from a disruption of the gut microbiota composition.

Source: Insitito Gulbenkian de Cienca, Portugal
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 26, 2021
Immunology
Sugar-Coating Organs Stops Them From Getting Rejected
AUG 26, 2021
Sugar-Coating Organs Stops Them From Getting Rejected
Once organ failure patients receive the gift of a transplant, they face a life-long threat of immune rejection. Their im ...
SEP 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
SEP 09, 2021
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 136 people die from an opioid overdose every ...
OCT 12, 2021
Immunology
Major Landmark in a 100-Year Search for a Malaria Vaccine
OCT 12, 2021
Major Landmark in a 100-Year Search for a Malaria Vaccine
In one of the greatest global health milestones of our time, the World Health Organization has approved the widespread d ...
OCT 14, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Itchy, red, dry eyes? FDA approves monthly implant for allergic conjunctivitis
OCT 14, 2021
Itchy, red, dry eyes? FDA approves monthly implant for allergic conjunctivitis
The conjunctiva is a thin membrane that covers the front of the eyes and the inner eyelids. The conjunctiva produces tea ...
NOV 05, 2021
Cancer
The Labroots 2021 Cancer Research and Oncology Virtual Event Poster Winner
NOV 05, 2021
The Labroots 2021 Cancer Research and Oncology Virtual Event Poster Winner
Every year, Labroots hosts an exciting series of Virtual Events that focus on various scientific topics. These virtual m ...
NOV 23, 2021
Immunology
Obesity Drives Inflammation, Puts Teeth at Risk
NOV 23, 2021
Obesity Drives Inflammation, Puts Teeth at Risk
Work by University at Buffalo researchers has identified a link between obesity and gum disease. As gum disease escalate ...
Loading Comments...