Discovery of bacterial signature of intestinal disease
New results have now been reported on the relationships of intestinal bacteria in IBD patients
Enormous numbers of bacteria live in our intestines: they normally cause no disease and they are essential if we are to remain healthy. If the delicate balance of these beneficial bacteria is disturbed through an unhealthy diet or side-effects of medications, the health-promoting functions of the bacteria are disrupted. Without the right interactions between our bodies and our intestinal bacteria different sorts of disease are triggered, especially inflammatory bowel disease.
New results have now been reported on the relationships of intestinal bacteria in IBD patients by the research team led by Andrew Macpherson, Bahtiyar Yilmaz and Pascal Juillerat in the Department of Biomedical Research in the University of Bern and the University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine of the Inselspital. They have discovered that changes of particular species of intestinal bacteria lead to severe relapsing disease resistant to therapy and even make the return of the disease more likely in patients whose active segments of Crohn’s disease have been surgically removed.
The analysis of the intestinal samples showed that the microbes in IBD patients differ significantly from those of healthy individuals. This is mainly caused by increases of some species of bacteria that can trigger or worsen the disease, and reductions in bacterial species that are important for maintaining health in the intestine.
The researchers found 18 new sorts of bacteria that could affect the disease outcome. They were also able to show that age, lifestyle and the type of treatment had a major effect on these intestinal microbes. Professor Andrew Macpherson, leader of the study and last author commented, “We found that the different bacterial groups were living associated together in distinct communities, and it is the disruption of these community networks between the different bacterial species that affect the disease. Like the communities in human society, every individual bacterial species has its place in the community if the intestine is to remain healthy. One of these bacterial communities is especially important, because its different bacterial members produce short chain fatty acids, which feed the epithelial cells that line the surface of intestinal tissues and help them to build a tight barrier between the contents of the gut and the underlying tissues of the body.”
The relapsing-remitting nature of IBD has huge costs for the quality of life and places a burden not only on the patients and their families, but also on the very substantial costs for healthcare. The researchers hope that this new approach can provide a new way to help those affected and to reduce the financial burden.
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