Research News

An interview with Philippe Marteau: “Some probiotics can be used like drugs for medical indications”

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:32

According to scientific research, probiotics may restore the composition of the gut microbiota and introduce beneficial functions to gut microbial communities. In fact, some probiotics can be used like drugs to treat some conditions and there is good evidence of their efficacy for diarrhoea associated to antibiotic intake or gastroenteritis diarrhoea.

Philippe Marteau is head of the medico-surgical department of hepato-gastroenterology at Lariboisière Hospital in Paris. He attended the 5th Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit 2016, where we interviewed him about probiotics and also prebiotics.

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New insights into the role of gut microbiota in rheumatoid arthritis

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:13

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of unknown cause in the synovial joints, requiring both genetic and environmental factors to manifest. It has been previously reported that individuals with RA have specific alterations in their gut and oral microbiomes.

Two recent studies, led by Dr. Veena Taneja from the Department of Immunology and Division of Rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (USA), allow a better understanding of the role of gut microbiota in people with rheumatoid arthritis and how manipulation of the gut microbiota may provide an additional approach to therapy.

The first paper, published in Genome Medicine, has found that the gut microbiota of RA patients (n=40) exhibited decreased diversity with increased disease duration and autoantibody levels, compared with controls (15 first-degree relatives of the patients and 17 non-related healthy controls). The dysbiotic gut microbiota in patients with RA stemmed from an expansion of rare microbial lineages like Eggerthella and Collinsella and from a decrease in the abundant beneficial genera like Faecalibacterium. A gut microbial profile for RA patients was identified based on the abundance of the three genera: Collinsella, Eggerthella, and Faecalibacterium.

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The oral microbiota as a potential source of information in irritable bowel syndrome

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:02

Recent research advances have revolutionized our understanding of the oral microbiota and its role in health. Although stool or gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa samples have often been used for microbiota characterization, the oral cavity microbiota in both in GI conditions and non-oral-non-GI conditions is attracting the interest of a growing number of scientists. Perturbations in gut bacterial communities may be reflected in the oral microbiota and this suggests that either acute or subtle alterations in oral bacterial communities could be a useful indicator of disease.

A recent study, led by Dr. Wendy A. Henderson from the National Institute of Nursing Research at National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda (USA), and co-authored by Research Fellow Dr. Nicolaas Fourie, has found that the oral microbiota could be a useful source of information in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

“We were interested in whether or not we could see differences between those with IBS [and healthy controls] by looking at the oral mucosa,” explained Henderson in a phone interview with GMFH editors.

In order to study oral microbial perturbations and their relationship with symptom severity in patients with IBS, 20 participants with IBS and 20 healthy controls were recruited. In the study group were individuals who had suffered from chronic visceral pain and altered bowel habits for more than six months without any organic underlying cause (Rome III criteria). Participants were subtyped as IBS-diarrhoea, IBS-constipation or IBS-mixed.

Henderson says her group used a test solution, formulated by the NIH pharmacy, as a gastrointestinal stressor. The test solution comprised a mixture of absorbable and non-absorbable sugars (sucrose, lactulose, sucralose, and mannitol) that enabled researchers to test for gastrointestinal permeability. The researchers orally administered 100mL of the solution after an overnight fast and asked participants to self-report the induced pain (See here for the protocol).

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The potential of probiotics and diets to reverse asocial behaviours in mice that are seen in autism spectrum disorders

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 11:53

It has been previously suggested that a high-fibre diet can prevent neurodegeneration by increasing gut microbiota derived butyrate in the colon, but how changes in gut bacteria could influence brain development and function is still poorly studied.

A recent study, led by Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas (USA), has found that the reintroduction of a commensal bacterial strain can reverse asocial behaviours in mice that are seen in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Previous human epidemiological studies that have found that maternal obesity during pregnancy could increase children’s risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASDs. Besides this, recurrent gastrointestinal problems are frequently reported in individuals with ASDs. Based on these observations, the researchers sought to explore the connections between changes in diet, the gut microbiome, and social behaviours.

First of all, female mice were fed either a regular diet (RD, consisting of 13.4% kcal from fat, 30% kcal from protein, and 57% kcal from carbohydrates) or a high-fat diet (HFD, consisting of 60% kcal from fat, 20% kcal from protein, and 20% kcal from carbohydrates) for 8 weeks. Females then were paired with males to produce offspring that all were given RD after weaning. Maternal high-fat diet (MHFD) significantly increased maternal weight. At 7-12 weeks of age behavioural and electrophysiological experiments were performed in order to study social behaviour in maternal regular diet (MRD) and maternal high-fat diet offspring. Maternal high-fat diet offspring displayed impaired sociability and dysbiosis of the gut microbiota.

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