NOV 13, 2022 5:15 PM PST

A Cancer-Linked Microbe Can Use a Dietary Nutrient to Survive

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The microbes in the human gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut microbiome, have a significant impact on out health and well-being. Scientists have begun to learn more about the complex relationships between diet, gut microbes, and disease. New research has now revealed that an nutrient and additive commonly found in the diet, called ergothioneine (EGT), can promote the survival of a microbe that can promote cancer development. EGT appears to shield the microbes from a natural phenomenon called oxidative stress, which is caused by an excess of free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Image credit: Pixabay

Antioxidants like EGT can protect cells from oxidative stress, and excessive oxidative stress is a common feature of disease. Immune cells can release ROS on purpose to kill bacteria, and bacteria have ways to prevent damage caused by ROS - they can use antioxidants too. In this case, the microbes are using EGT from the diet. The findings have been reported in Cell.

The study authors determined that bacteria can take up EGT, which is naturally found in grains, beans, and mushrooms, to survive longer.

The pathogenic microbe Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with gastric cancer development, outcompeted other microbes for survival in a host, using EGT to do so. The researchers used mass spectrometry and a new tool they called “reactivity-guided metabolomics” to identify specific molecules in complex environments, to show the microbes had ingested the EGT from the diet.

“We were excited to discover an unconventional mechanism that enables bacteria to withstand oxidative stress during infection,” said senior study author Stavroula Hatzios, an assistant professor at Yale University.

Bacteria take up EGT in a different way than human cells, so it could be possible to develop a specific drug that can inhibit the uptake of this nutrient by microbes in the gut, she added.

Human cells can take up dietary EGT, which has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory molecule that can prevent disease. Reduced EGT levels have been associated with a wide variety of diseases, including autoimmune and cardiovascular disorders. Bacterial uptake of EGT could have a significant influence on human health.

Sources: Yale University, Cell

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 07, 2022
Immunology
A High-Fat Diet May Alter Immunity
A High-Fat Diet May Alter Immunity
The physiological impact of various diets has been hotly debated for years. Scientists have now used a mouse model to sh ...
NOV 16, 2022
Coronavirus
Divergent SARS-CoV-2 Variant Reveals Evidence of Deer-to-Human Transmission
Divergent SARS-CoV-2 Variant Reveals Evidence of Deer-to-Human Transmission
After only a few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers had identified the virus that causes the disease, SARS-CoV ...
NOV 24, 2022
Microbiology
The Germs in Hospitals are a Bigger Threat Than Those on Farms
The Germs in Hospitals are a Bigger Threat Than Those on Farms
Researchers sought to learn how dangerous drug-resistant Klebsiella, which can be found in many places, like farms, hosp ...
NOV 23, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Evidence of antibiotic resistance genes in 'zombie' microbes of the arctic permafrost
Evidence of antibiotic resistance genes in 'zombie' microbes of the arctic permafrost
One of the most significant consequences of climate change is the greenhouse gases generated from the microbial decompos ...
JAN 05, 2023
Cell & Molecular Biology
CRISPR-Cas12a2 - A New Kind of Gene Scissors
CRISPR-Cas12a2 - A New Kind of Gene Scissors
Microbes have long been engaged in an arms race for dominance, and they have molecular weapons, and defense mechanisms. ...
JAN 08, 2023
Microbiology
A Novel Mode of Gene Sharing is Discovered in Marine Microbes
A Novel Mode of Gene Sharing is Discovered in Marine Microbes
It seems that ocean water can contain genetic material from microbes, who are sharing genes, and modifying their functio ...
Loading Comments...