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A New Technique Finds Gut Microbes That Trigger Inflammatory Diseases

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Researchers at Cedars-Sinai have created a way to determine the human gut microbes that are most likely to cause a variety of inflammatory diseases, including obesity, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and several neurological conditions.

The method, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine, makes use of a blood protein that can identify gut microbes that have breached the gut barrier and activate immune cells all over the body. This discovery could pave the way for new medications that specifically target inflammatory gut microbes.

According to Ivan Vujkovic-Cvijin, the study’s senior author, “Microbes crossing the gut barrier usually causes inflammation and activation of the immune system, which are key features of many inflammatory diseases.” 

“By understanding which specific microbes are crossing the gut and causing inflammation in a disease,” add the author, “we then can devise methods to get rid of those microbes to stop the disease.”

While immunological over-activation-related disorders are thought to be largely influenced by the gut microbiome, many of these illnesses also affect other organs. There are currently few methods for determining which gut bacteria have breached the gut barrier and triggered immune cells outside of the digestive tract.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases used human serum, the fluid found in blood that includes all of an individual’s antibodies, to measure immune responses to gut microorganisms in order to develop a more precise method.

Researchers can better comprehend the overall body immune reactions to all gut microorganisms by using human serum, which helps them determine whether particular microbes are causing immune activation in various disorders.

To determine the amount of antibodies present against each gut bacteria, the scientists computed an IgG score using high speed sequencing.

As a co-author of the study and an associate professor at the Cedars-Sinai Division of Gastroenterology, Suzanne Devkota, PhD, noted that bacteria can move from the gut into other organs with pleiotropic consequences that are still not fully understood. 

“Therefore, we need new ways to assess translocation non-invasively.”

Researchers used this method to study inflammatory bowel illness and discovered many bacteria that the immune system specifically targeted when compared to healthy controls. Several intestinal bacteria, such as Collinsella, Bifidobacterium, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae, were included in this.

“Many of the bacteria we identified haven’t been thought of as potential causative drivers of this disease,” adds Vujkovic-Cvijin. “This microbial activity is likely relevant to disease progression and may represent a viable therapeutic target.”

The team intends to continue investigating the study’s findings in order to learn more about the mechanics of the specific gut bacteria identified as prospective targets.

Image Credit: Getty

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