The Latest Research on the Human Microbiome

man-dna-microbiomeThe human microbiome is currently one of the hottest research topics in science. These days, it seems like rarely a week goes by when you don’t see ground-breaking studies on human-associated microorganisms being published. Personally, I think it’s particularly interesting to follow the progression that’s being made in terms of developing microbiome modulators and other therapeutics that can potentially be used by nutritionists and other health practitioners in clinical settings in the future. In today’s article I’ve included a selection of interesting research papers on the microbiome that have been published over the past several weeks. I hope you find them enjoyable!

Using microbes to treat disease

‘Bugs’ as drugs: Harnessing novel gut bacteria for human health

The researchers have developed a process to grow the majority of bacteria from the gut, which will enable scientists to understand how our bacterial ‘microbiome’ helps keep us healthy. Imbalances in our gut microbiome can contribute to complex conditions and diseases such as obesity, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and allergies. This research will allow scientists to start to create tailor-made treatments with specific beneficial bacteria. Read more…

Helminth infection promotes colonization resistance via type 2 immunity.

Increasing incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, in developed nations is associated with changes to the microbial environment, such as decreased prevalence of helminth colonization and alterations to the gut microbiota. We find that helminth infection protects mice deficient in the Crohn’s disease susceptibility gene Nod2 from intestinal abnormalities by inhibiting colonization by an inflammatory Bacteroides species. Resistance to Bacteroides colonization was dependent on type 2 immunity, which promoted the establishment of a protective microbiota enriched in Clostridiales. Additionally, we show that individuals from helminth-endemic regions harbor a similar protective microbiota and that deworming treatment reduced levels of Clostridiales and increased Bacteroidales. These results support a model of the hygiene hypothesis in which certain individuals are genetically susceptible to the consequences of a changing microbial environment. Read more…

Transplanted Fecal Microbes Stick Around

New research casts some light on what happens to a patient’s gut microbiome after a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and their colleagues sequenced the DNA of bacterial strains in patients with metabolic syndrome who each received an FMT, finding that donor strains persisted in the recipients’ guts for up to three months following the procedure. Read more…

Meet The Parasites That Might Cure Crohn’s Disease, MS, And More

After all, the gut is a major niche for not just commensal bacteria but also eukaryotes. Mammals evolved with bacteria and eukaryotes as coadapted partners. Modern sanitation, lack of close contact with farm animals, and antibiotics are some of the recent major changes that profoundly disturbed these ancient relationships. Of course, it’s crystal clear in hindsight that the fallout has been self-inflicted damage to human health. Read more…

The impact of diet and lifestyle on microbiome composition

Can more fiber restore microbiome diversity?

Scientists are pushing to restore human health in Western countries by changing our diet to restore the microbial species lost over the evolution of Western diet. Researchers advocate for strategically increasing dietary fiber intake as one path forward in regaining microbial biodiversity. Read more…

Your gut bacteria are more than what you eat

Like it or not, the microbes in and on our bodies play a big role in human health and disease. Yet we still don’t know what determines the exact makeup of these invisible communities and how they vary within populations. Now, two large-scale studies show that factors once thought to be critical, such as natural versus cesarean birth, breastfeeding, or body mass index, don’t matter as much as researchers had thought. Instead, medication—including heartburn medicine, antibiotics, and statins—breathing efficiency, stool consistency, and age all correlated better with microbiome composition, the two groups report today in Science. Read more…

Antiperspirant Alters the Microbial Ecosystem on Your Skin

Wearing antiperspirant or deodorant doesn’t just affect your social life, it substantially changes the microbial life that lives on you. New research finds that antiperspirant and deodorant can significantly influence both the type and quantity of bacterial life found in the human armpit’s “microbiome.” Read more…

Cigarette smoking alters the mouth microbiota

Smoking significantly changes the mouth’s microbiome, with potential implications for tooth decay and the ability to break down toxins, according to results published in the ISME (International Society for Microbial Ecology) Journal. Read more…

Antibiotic-induced perturbation of the microbiome, dysbiosis, and chronic disease

Antibiotic brain? Cognitive impairment by antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis

The present study shows that intragastric treatment of mice with an antibiotic mix impairs novel object recognition, but not spatial memory. This behavioral change is associated with a disruption of the microbial community in the colon, distinct alterations of the colonic and circulating metabolite profile and particular changes of neurochemical brain activity. Read more…

Antibiotics allow gut pathogens to ‘breathe’
Study details how antibiotics benefit pathogen growth by disrupting oxygen levels, fiber processing in the gut

According to Bäumler, the process begins with antibiotics depleting “good” bacteria in the gut, including those that breakdown fiber from vegetables to create butyrate, an essential organic acid that cells lining the large intestine need as an energy source to absorb water. The reduced ability to metabolize fiber prevents these cells from consuming oxygen, increasing oxygen levels in the gut lumen that favor the growth of Salmonella.

“Unlike Clostridia and other beneficial microbes in the gut, which grow anaerobically, or in the complete absence of oxygen, Salmonella flourished in the newly created oxygen-rich micro environment after antibiotic treatment,” Bäumler said. “In essence, antibiotics enabled pathogens in the gut to breathe.” Read more…

Antibiotics, obesity and the link to microbes – what are we doing to our children?

Exposure to antibiotics exerts a devastating impact on the intestinal microbial community. Epidemiological studies have provided evidence indicating that early or repeated childhood exposure to antibiotics is associated with increased risk of overweight later in childhood but the causal role of this exposure in obesity development is not clear. However, data from studies conducted using experimental animal models indicate that antibiotic-induced changes in the gut microbiota influence host metabolism and lead to fat accumulation. The intestinal microbiota perturbation caused by antibiotic exposure in the perinatal period appears to program the host to an obesity-prone metabolic phenotype, which persists after the antibiotics have been discontinued and the gut microbiota has recovered. Read more…

Yeast infection linked to mental illness
Candida infections also more common among those with memory loss

In a study prompted in part by suggestions from people with mental illness, researchers found that a history of Candida yeast infections was more common in a group of men with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder than in those without these disorders, and that women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who tested positive for Candida performed worse on a standard memory test than women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who had no evidence of past infection. Read more…

Gut feeling: Research examines link between stomach bacteria, PTSD

Could bacteria in your gut be used to cure or prevent neurological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or even depression? Two researchers think that’s a strong possibility. Read more…

Microbiomes of infants have an impact on autoimmunity

By looking at the gut microbiomes of infants from three different countries, the team uncovered evidence that not only supports the hygiene hypothesis, but also points to interactions among bacterial species that may account, at least in part, for the spike in immune disorders seen in western societies. Read more…

Other topics

Do gut microbes shape our evolution?
Researcher proposes that a host’s microbiota can steer its evolution in new directions

Our gut microbes are key to our health, but they may also shape our evolution, according to a new hypothesis. Expanding on the concept of the hologenome — the host genome together with the genomes of its microbiota — he argues that the host’s microbiota participate in the host’s evolution and at times may save a host faced with sudden environmental change by employing rarely used genes to help it adapt and survive. Read more…

Microbial cooperation in the intestine

The team found that one species of bacteria, Bacteroides ovatus, digests a dietary polysaccharide — a complex carbohydrate — at a cost to itself but at a benefit to another species. Using in vitro experiments and a mouse model, the team found that B. ovatus receives reciprocal benefits from other gut species in return. Read more…

Earth may be home to one trillion species
Largest-ever analysis of microbial data reveals an ecological law concluding 99.999 percent of species remain undiscovered

Earth could contain nearly 1 trillion species, with only one-thousandth of 1 percent now identified, according to a study from biologists. The estimate is based on the intersection of large datasets and universal scaling laws. Read more…

Humans use ‘sticky molecules’ to hang on to good bacteria in the gut

Scientists have long known that our bodies need to control the communities of bacteria in the gut to prevent a beneficial environment from turning into a dangerous one. What hasn’t been known is how we do this.

Now, Oxford University researchers have proposed a clever solution to the problem: make good bacteria sticky so they don’t get lost. The key to this is for a host to target good bacteria over bad ones — potentially via the immune system, which produces highly-specific adhesive molecules called immunoglobulins (specifically ‘IgA’) that coat the bacteria in the gut. Read more…

Our personal skin microbiome is surprisingly stable

Despite regular washing and contact with bacteria-laden objects, our personal milieu of skin microbes remains highly stable over time, reports a metagenomics study. The authors say this knowledge could be applied to better understand a wide range of human skin disorders through the development of prebiotic, probiotic, and microbial transplantation approaches. Read more…

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Comments

  1. Alessio says:

    I bet that we’ll soon have a research that says that our bacteria evolved in a minute to help us to eat processed grains and seeds oils, and there’s a new miraculous probiotic to help you to eat whatever you want and stay healthy.

  2. Alessio says:

    Eat more fiber with the new Special K breakfast!! Hadza eat plenty of them for breakfast, together with their whole bread and pasta!

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