Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study of gut microbes, antibiotics offers clues to improving immunity in premature babies

Date:
April 20, 2014
Source:
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Summary:
Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs -— germs that help to kick-start the infant’s immune system. But antibiotics, used to fight bacterial infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn’s own immune responses. A new animal study by neonatology researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) sheds light on immunology in newborns by revealing how gut microbes play a crucial role in fostering the rapid production of infection-fighting white blood cells, called granulocytes.

Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs -- germs that help to kick-start the infant's immune system. But antibiotics, used to fend off infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn's own immune responses, leaving already-vulnerable premature babies more susceptible to dangerous pathogens.

Related Articles


A new animal study by neonatology researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) sheds light on immunology in newborns by revealing how gut microbes play a crucial role in fostering the rapid production of infection-fighting white blood cells, called granulocytes.

"At birth, newborns move from a largely sterile environment to one full of microorganisms," said CHOP neonatology researcher Hitesh Deshmukh, M.D., Ph.D., first author of the study published online today in Nature Medicine. "Animals and humans adapt to this new situation by ramping up the production of granulocytes within the first days of life."

The current study, said senior author and CHOP neonatalogist G. Scott Worthen, M.D., suggests that exposure to the mother's microbes initiates the immunological transition. As in human babies, neonatal mice have a spike in white blood cells, but this response was reduced when their mothers had prenatal and postnatal exposure to antibiotics. This left the neonatal mice much more vulnerable to life-threatening sepsis caused by the bacterium E. coli K1, especially when they were born prematurely.

The study team showed that signaling mechanisms within the gut microbiome -- the vast colony of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract -- regulate the production of white blood cells in neonatal mice. Exposing both the mothers and neonatal mice to antibiotics reduced the diversity of gut bacteria, many of which are beneficial, and also impaired resistance to infection in the newborn animals, in comparison to control mice.

The researchers reversed these abnormal effects by taking normal intestinal microbes from mice that were not exposed to antibiotics and transferring them to mice that had received antibiotics. This improved the animals' resistance to E.coli infection.

When a similar procedure is performed in humans, it is called a fecal transplant, and has recently shown success in treating severe bacterial infections in adults. Such transplants have not been performed in human newborns, and the researchers caution that a great deal of work remains before they can determine what implications these animal results may have in guiding human treatment.

Because it is very difficult to determine whether critically ill newborns are infected with bacteria, these babies will continue to be treated with antibiotics, even as clinicians strive to decrease antibiotic use as a long-term goal. However, added Worthen, further investigation may reveal appropriate combinations of microbes that could be used to reconstitute infants' immune systems after they complete a course of antibiotics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hitesh Deshmukh et al. The microbiota regulates neutrophil homeostasis and host resistance to Escherichia coli K1 sepsis in neonatal mice. Nature Medicine, April 2014 DOI: 10.1038/nm.3542

Cite This Page:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Study of gut microbes, antibiotics offers clues to improving immunity in premature babies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140420131523.htm>.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. (2014, April 20). Study of gut microbes, antibiotics offers clues to improving immunity in premature babies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140420131523.htm
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Study of gut microbes, antibiotics offers clues to improving immunity in premature babies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140420131523.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins