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.

Related Articles


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 March 6, 2015 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 March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A giant panda goes walkabout alone at night in southwest China. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — The Pennsylvania State Game Commission captured amazing shots of a nesting bald eagle who stayed on its nest during a snowstorm, even when the snow piled all the way up to its neck. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — Scientists rediscover a bird thought to be extinct, so we may be able to cross it off the "Gone For Good" list. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

AP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A shortage of snow has forced Alaska&apos;s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move 300 miles north to Fairbanks. The ceremonial start through downtown Anchorage will take place this weekend, using snow stockpiled earlier this winter. (March 6) Video provided by AP
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