Healthy Gut Microbiome in the Spotlight
The state of the intestinal microbiome, in essence the microbiota genome, is proving to be an important factor during disease development and progression. However before in depth studies are done to define disease-related microbiome profiles, it’s essential to also have an idea of what profiles define a healthy state. Dr. Emily B. Hollister of the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital reviewed the current literature. In general, the gut microbiome has approximately more than 10 million non-redundant genes, and a more diverse microbiome is healthier than less diverse one. Not everyone has the same types of populations of bacteria; most healthy microbiomes can be classified into three basic enterotypes. The influence of the microbiome extends to the immune system, cellular nutrition, cellular protection, metabolic processes and the functioning of the nervous system.
Lost Faecalibacteria in IBD
Many researchers are searching for the right probiotics to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). To support this kind of search, simultaneous research investigating the microbiota in IBD patients as compared to healthy ones is also necessary. Wei Wang of Wuhan University recently published evidence that some major changes in the IBD microbiota are an increase in Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli along with a loss of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. The loss of F. prausnitzii was especially considerable in patients with active Crohn’s disease (CD). F. prausnitzii is known to produce butyrate, which is especially important for the formation of regulatory T cells in the colon. The author suggests that instead of focusing on common lactic acid producing probiotics in IBD, patients may be better served by looking at butyrate-producing probiotic species.
IL-10 Deficient Mice Inflamed by Inflammasomes
An interesting model of IBD is the interleukin (IL)-10 deficient mouse, which develops spontaneous colitis. Dr. J. Zhang of the Medical University of South Carolina found evidence that inflammasomes play a role in this model by promoting chronic intestinal inflammation. He found that loss of IL-10 increased the levels of NLRP3 and contributed to more inflammasome activity. This caused higher amounts of active IL-1β to be produced in gut tissues, which also led to increased colitogenic Th17. Blocking inflammsome activation successfully improved the colitis of the IL-10 deficient mice, suggesting that similar strategies could be useful in IBD.
- Hollister, E. B., Gao, C., & Versalovic, J. (2014). Compositional and Functional Features of the Gastrointestinal Microbiome and Their Effects on Human Health. Gastroenterology, 1–23. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2014.01.052
- Wang, W., Chen, L., Zhou, R., Wang, X., Song, L., Huang, S., et al. (2014). Increased Proportions of Bifidobacterium and the Lactobacillus Group and Loss of Butyrate-Producing Bacteria in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 52(2), 398–406. doi:10.1128/JCM.01500-13
- Zhang, J., Fu, S., Sun, S., Li, Z., & Guo, B. (2014). Inflammasome activation has an important role in the development of spontaneous colitis. Mucosal Immunology, 1–12. doi:10.1038/mi.2014.1