Monday, August 12, 2013

Intestinal Protein That "Lets the Good Bacteria In"

The bacterial pathogen C. rodentium (green) is covering the intestinal surface (blue) in mice; Credit: Vallance Lab, UBC

A new study at the University of British Columbia reminds us that our body is really quite the complex system. We've probably all heard that one of the consequences of our society of antibiotic abuse is a general trend towards more drug-resistant bacteria. Well a more immediate threat of overdoing it with antibiotics is you'll be killing off all the beneficial bacteria found naturally in the human gut.

Our bodies actually go so far as to suppress our immune response to bacteria within the intestines to allow these beneficial microbes safe haven. The protein responsible for this is SIGIRR and it turns out than when it's removed our body will go after the potentially dangerous bacteria as well as the ones we like to keep around. This might not seem so bad at first, I mean our immune system is taking care of the bad bacteria as well right?

Not exactly, because our defenses can't deal with all the bad bacteria, especially the ones that have adapted to our immune response. This quickly leads to infection and general mayhem. Basically without our resident bacteria crowding out pathogens our body is left open to invading strains.

An interesting study and great reminder on moderation when it comes to antibiotic use. The detailed study can be found at PLOS Pathogens website.

No comments:

Post a Comment