Unlocking the secrets of gut bacteria: a leap towards next-gen probiotics! Shocking reveal!
A groundbreaking study unveiled the intricate relationship between gut bacteria (microbiota) and the human body. These microorganisms in our intestines operate like biorreactors, metabolizing nutrients that our body doesn’t use. In return, they generate compounds that benefit human health.
Furthermore, the bacteria in the intestine interact amongst themselves, swapping nutrients to boost their survival rates. Understanding these bacterial interactions can pave the way for enhanced cooperative relationships and applications to improve gut health and overall well-being.
Yolanda Sanz, a renowned scientist at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA), has recently shed light on the potential role of gut bacteria in crafting next-generation probiotics. She draws attention to research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Here, scientists cultivated gut bacteria that cooperatively exist within the intestine and then reintroduced them to mice and humans, marking progress in leveraging them for health benefits.
However, certain illnesses, antibiotic usage, and unhealthy diets can decrease the abundance and survival of health-promoting gut bacteria. The straightforward solution might seem to reintroduce these bacteria. Yet, most of these bacteria cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, making their cultivation intricate and demanding specific in vitro conditions. Their survival and efficacy also rely on their interaction with other bacteria, which are challenging to pinpoint and reproduce.
Swedish scientists pinpointed two bacterial species, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Desulfovibrio piger, that interact through a nutrient exchange mechanism, making them invaluable partners. Specifically, F. prausnitzii consumes carbohydrates like glucose and produces lactate. This lactate is utilized by D. piger to produce acetate, which F. prausnitzii then uses to generate butyrate.
Butyrate, a fatty acid, is a primary energy source for the intestine’s epithelial cells. It plays a vital role in reducing inflammation and maintaining the intestinal barrier’s integrity. Beyond the intestine, butyrate can diminish liver inflammation and help regulate blood glucose levels, potentially preventing conditions like obesity.
Cultivating bacteria: the extrahordinary test
One notable achievement by Swedish researchers was enhancing F. prausnitzii’s resilience to oxygen-rich environments, facilitating its in vitro production. This process involved cultivating the bacteria in a biorreactor replicating the gut environment and slowly raising oxygen levels. By sequencing its genome, they identified several oxygen-tolerant mutations in F. prausnitzii. This breakthrough enabled them to produce enough of this bacteria for trials on rodents and humans alongside D. piger.
The study further assessed the bacteria’s colonization potential in the intestine. While DNA traces of the administered bacteria appeared in some subjects, not all participants showed this evidence. According to Sanz, reintroducing bacteria might be more successful in a diseased gut ecosystem than in a healthy one, which naturally resists foreign bacterial colonization.
These findings reinforce the idea of reintroducing bacteria to restore gut health as a promising health and disease control strategy. Still, challenges remain. Identifying and recreating beneficial microbial interactions and cultivating these bacteria outside the gut will be pivotal for the next probiotics generation. Nevertheless, Sanz believes we’re increasingly closer to harnessing our microorganisms for better human health.