Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacterial switches in human gut pave way for therapeutic manipulation

Date:
July 8, 2014
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
The microbial ecosystem in the human gut can switch from one stable state into another, without staying for a long time in between. Key groups of bacteria tend to be either nearly absent, or relatively abundant in any given individual. This discovery highlights fundamental organizing principles of the intestinal ecosystem and they suggest novel strategies for diagnostic purposes and therapeutic manipulation to improve well-being and health.

The microbial ecosystem in the human gut can switch from one stable state into another, without staying for a long time in between. Key groups of bacteria tend to be either nearly absent, or relatively abundant in any given individual. This discovery highlights fundamental organizing principles of the intestinal ecosystem and they suggest novel strategies for diagnostic purposes and therapeutic manipulation to improve well-being and health. An international research team from the University of Helsinki and Wageningen University published their findings in Nature Communications on July 8.

Diverse microbial communities thrive in the human gut, with a profound impact on our well-being. We have, however, a limited understanding of the mechanisms that control the balance of this complex ecosystem. A major question is whether the intestinal microbiota exhibits alternative stable states separated by unstable 'tipping points'. Changes in the microbial composition would then occur through abrupt switches between the alternative states, rather than by flowing gradually from one configuration to another. Such alternative stable states would be resilient to changes, hence providing promising targets for therapeutic manipulation.

Aging and overweight

The deep and robust analysis of gut bacteria across a 1,000 western adults derived from a large database at the Laboratory of Microbiology at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) demonstrates that our intestinal ecosystem exhibits such properties. The international research team from Helsinki (Finland) and Wageningen University reports multiple groups of bacteria that tend to be either very abundant or nearly absent, and robust to short-term dietary changes. The research team proposes that these bi-stable bacterial populations vary independently and their specific combinations can be used to categorize individuals. The alternative states of these bi-stable bacteria are linked to host factors such as aging and overweight, and hence represent potential targets for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Targeting specific sub-populations of intestinal bacteria -- as opposed to the daunting complexity and variability of the entire ecosystem -- can simplify the characterization and possible manipulation of the intestinal microbiota. Resetting these 'bacterial DIP switches' may be a radically new way to approach the rapidly growing number of health issues related to the intestinal microbiota, changing the way we look at management of the intestinal ecosystem.

While the team focused on healthy western adults, further research could show whether the alternative states of the human gut ecosystem translate into differential disease susceptibility or drug response of the host, and pinpoint further tipping elements associated with different ethnic populations, age groups and disease cohorts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Leo Lahti, Jarkko Salojδrvi, Anne Salonen, Marten Scheffer, Willem M. de Vos. Tipping elements in the human intestinal ecosystem. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5344

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Bacterial switches in human gut pave way for therapeutic manipulation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708121552.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2014, July 8). Bacterial switches in human gut pave way for therapeutic manipulation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708121552.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Bacterial switches in human gut pave way for therapeutic manipulation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708121552.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
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