Author Interviews, Autism, Microbiome / 16.08.2018 Interview with: quadrant biosciencesSteven D. Hicks, MD PhD Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Division of Academic General Pediatrics Hershey, PA, 17033‐0850 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ​Previous studies have shown that disrupting the community of bacteria in the gut can lead to autism-like behavior in animals. In humans interventions aimed at improving the intestinal microbiome have also led to changes in autism behavior. Here, we examined whether autism-related changes in microbial activity extended to the mouth and throat. We were interested in this site because it provides the initial interface between host immunity and microbe exposure. By examining nearly 350 children with autism, typical development, or developmental delay (without autism) we identified 12 groups of oral bacteria with unique activity patterns in children with autism. Interestingly, microbial activity (measured by RNA sequencing) also differed between children with autism and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and peers with autism but no GI disturbance. Levels of several microbes also displayed correlations with measures of autism behaviors. We utilized microbial activity patterns to create diagnostic panels that displayed accuracy for distinguishing children with autism from peers with typical development (79.5% accuracy) or developmental delay (76.5% accuracy).  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Genetic Research, Microbiome / 24.07.2018 Interview with: A. Sloan Devlin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? Response: It is known that the microbiome, the collection of bacteria that live in and on our bodies, influences the development of metabolic diseases including diabetes and obesity. The ways in which the microbiome affects host metabolism, however, are poorly understood. One reason for this lack of understanding is because the gastrointestinal tract contains hundreds of species of bacteria producing many different kinds of metabolites. Untangling the effects of these bacteria and the molecules they make is a significant challenge. In this study, we decided to concentrate on a group of metabolites found in the human gut called bile acids. When we eat a meal, these compounds are released into the gastrointestinal tract where they act as detergents that aid in digestion. Once these molecules reach the lower gastrointestinal tract, the gut bacteria residing there chemically modify these compounds, producing a pool of over 50 different bile acids total. Imbalances in this bile acid pool are thought to influence the progression of diet-induced obesity. However, it is unclear which specific bile acids are responsible for either beneficial or detrimental effects on host metabolism. We set out to address this question by first identifying a selective type of bacterial enzyme called a bile salt hydrolase, then by genetically deleting this enzyme from a common gut bacterium and investigating how this change affected host metabolism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Microbiome, Occupational Health, PNAS / 15.07.2018 Interview with: Dr. Hans Van Dongen, PhD Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center. ELSON S. FLOYD COLLEGE OF MEDICIN Washington State University Spokane, WA What is the background for this study? Response: Night shift workers are at increased risk of metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. Although it is believed that the biological clock – the master circadian clock in the brain – plays an important role in these adverse chronic health consequences of night shift work, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Microbiome, UCSF / 12.07.2018 Interview with: James R. Bagley, PhD Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Director, Muscle Physiology Lab Co-Director, Exercise Physiology Lab Research Director, Strength & Conditioning Lab San Francisco State University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The human body contains many billions of bacteria cells, and the type of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (termed gut microbiota) has been linked to certain diseases. Most of your gut microbiota falls into two categories: Firmicutes (F) or Bacteroidetes (B). The relative gut F/B ratio has been used to assess microbiota health. Our study was the first to examine potential relationships among F/B ratio and cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and diet in healthy young men and women We recruited 37 healthy adults to undergo a battery of physiological tests and collected stool samples to analyze their gut F/B ratio using qPCR. We found that F/B ratio was significantly correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness, but with no other variables. In fact, this correlation was so strong that a person’s fitness level explained ~22% of the variance in their gut bacteria composition. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, PNAS / 13.06.2018 Interview with: Dr. Josh D. Neufeld PhD Professor; Department of Biology Ashley A. Ross MSc University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Given important implications for skin health and our relationship to the microbial world, we are curious about the microorganisms on human skin, how these microbial communities are formed and passed on from generation to generation, and how these communities differ between mammalian species. Our main finding is that human skin microbial communities are distinct from nearly all of the other animals that we sampled, in terms of both diversity and composition. We also found initial evidence that animals and their skin microbial communities have co-evolved over time.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Stones, Microbiome, Urology / 15.05.2018 Interview with: Gregory Tasian MD, MSc, MSCE Assistant Professor of Urology and Epidemiology University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Division of Urology and Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  We found that five classes of commonly prescribed antibiotics were associated with an increased risk of kidney stones. These classes were sulfa drugs (e.g. Bactrim), fluoroquinolones (e.g. Cipro), cephalosporins (e.g. cephalexin), nitrofurantoin, and broad-spectrum penicillins (e.g. augmentin).  For those five classes of antibiotics, the greatest risk was found among younger patients. However, the increased risk was still significant across all ages, including for older adults with the exception of broad-spectrum penicillins, which were not associated with an increased risk of kidney stones among patients >75 years of age. We conducted this study because: 1) Prior investigations have demonstrated that changes in the gut microbiome were associated with kidney stones, 2) Antibiotics are prescribed frequently, and 3) The number of people affected by kidney stone disease has increased 70% over the last 30 years and the greatest increases have been found among children and adolescents. Our results were consistent with these previous studies, so we were not surprised with the findings although we did not know which specific classes of antibiotics would be associated with an increased risk of stones and which ones would not. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Microbiome, Nutrition, Weight Research / 13.04.2018 Interview with: “Turkish Food” by Garry Knight is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jasmohan S. Bajaj, M.D. Associate Professor Department of Internal Medicine Division of Gastroenterology Virginia Commonwealth University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Altered gut microbiota composition can occur due to diseases and due to changes in the dietary practices. The interaction between these two and their linkage with clinical outcomes in liver diseases, such as cirrhosis is not clear from an international standpoint. In this study we enrolled healthy subjects, and patients with cirrhosis who were either early or advanced in their process from USA and Turkey. We found that the Turkish subjects, who followed a Middle-eastern diet rich in vegetables and fermented milk products, had high microbial diversity, which was in turn associated with lower hospitalizations over 3 months. There was also an additional beneficial effect of coffee and tea intake. This protection persisted even when the clinical factors were accounted for. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, Nutrition, Sugar, Weight Research / 12.04.2018 Interview with: Eugene B. Chang, MD Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery University of Chicago Chicago, IL  60637 and Kristina Martinez-Guryn, Ph.D., R.D.
Assistant Professor 
Biomedical Sciences Program
Midwestern University
Downers Grove IL What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Martinez-Guryn: The original goal of this study was to understand why mice devoid of all microorganisms (germ free mice) are protected from diet-induced obesity. We demonstrate that these mice display severely impaired lipid absorption even when fed a high fat diet. Dr. Chang: We found that many of the processes of dietary lipid digestion and absorption are dependent on and modulated by the gut microbiome which itself responds to dietary cues to adjust the small intestine’s ability and capacity to handle dietary lipids appropriately. This interplay is important for general health, but the findings are also relevant to conditions of overnutrition (obesity, metabolic syndrome) and undernutrition (starvation, environmental enteropathy).  In conditions of overnutrition, high fat, simple sugar, low fiber foods typical of western diets promote small intestinal microbes (which have been largely neglected by the scientific community) that promote fat digestion and absorption. This increases our capacity to assimilate dietary fats which can contribute to the overnutrition problem.  In conditions of undernutrition, these types of gut microbes are lost or minimally represented.  Thus, when nutritional repletion is started, the gut’s ability to upregulate its capacity for dietary lipid digestion and absorption is compromised. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Microbiome, NYU, Pancreatic / 28.03.2018 Interview with: Mautin Hundeyin MD Post-doctoral Research Fellow George Miller, MD is Principal Investigator and Director of the S. Arthur Localio Laboratory in the Department of Surgery at NYU School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is the devastating disease with grim prognosis. The microbiome has emerged as a contributor to oncogenesis in a number of intestinal tract malignancies. We found that PDA is associated with a distinct stage-specific gut and pancreatic microbiome that drives disease progression by inducing intra-tumoral immune suppression. Targeting the microbiome protects against oncogenesis, reverses intra-tumoral immune-tolerance, and enables efficacy for check-point based immunotherapy. These data have implications for understanding immune-suppression in pancreatic cancer and its reversal in the clinic.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Microbiome, Nutrition, Science / 13.03.2018 Interview with: Liping Zhao PhD, Professor Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Rutgers University-New Brunswick NJ What is the background for this study? Response: Microbes in the human gut (collectively known as the gut microbiota) provide many functions that are important for human health. A notable example is that some gut bacteria are able to ferment non-digestible carbohydrates in our diet, e.g. dietary fibers, to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs nourish our gut epithelial cells, reduce inflammation, and play a role in appetite control. Deficiency of SCFAs has been associated with many diseases including type 2 diabetes. Many gut bacteria have the genes (and therefore the capacity) to produce SCFAs from carbohydrate fermentation. However, we know little about how these bacteria, as individual strains and as a group, actually respond to an increased supply of carbohydrates. This is key to improve clinical efficacy of dietary fiber interventions to improve human health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Microbiome / 19.01.2018 Interview with: Maja-Lisa Clausen MD, Ph.D.-fellow Department of Dermatology Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg What is the background for this study? Response: ​The human microbiome seems to play an important role in health and disease, by influencing host cells and contributing to host immunity. A balanced interplay between host cells and resident bacteria is important, and dysbiosis is linked to several diseases, including skin diseases like atopic dermatitis. Patients with atopic dermatitis suffer from ​frequent skin infections, and their skin microbiome is dominated by S. aureus. Frequent skin infections lead to frequent use of antibiotics, and with worldwide increase in resistant bacteria, a better understanding of the interplay between host and bacteria is paramount in order to develop new treatment strategies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 15.12.2017 Interview with: Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor Dept Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta Edmonton, AB What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The first year of an infant’s life is a critical time for the development of his or her gut microbiome. Gut microbes not only help infants digest food, but they also “train” their developing immune system. An infant’s environment, from the type of birth and infant diet to use of antibiotics, has a large impact in determining which microbes are present. Frequently these early life exposures occur together. Using data from AllerGen’s CHILD birth cohort and a new analytical approach —called Significance Analysis of Microarrays—we quantified changes to gut microbiota throughout the first year of life according to common combinations of early life exposures. We found that, compared to vaginally-born and breastfed infants, formula-fed or cesarean-delivered infants had different trajectories of microbial colonization in later infancy, which could have implications for their future health. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, Microbiome, Pediatrics / 15.12.2017 Interview with: Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor, Dept Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta Edmonton, AB What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I was motivated to study the maternal asthma-infant microbiome link by the well-established fact that maternal asthma affects infant birth weight in a sex-specific manner. Based on data from AllerGen’s CHILD birth cohort, Caucasian baby boys born to pregnant moms with asthma—putting them at the highest risk for developing asthma in early childhood—were one-third as likely to have high levels of the microbe, Lactobacillus, in their gut microbiome at 3-4 months after birth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, Multiple Sclerosis / 23.11.2017 Interview with: Kouichi Ito, PhD Associate Professor Department of Neurology Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Rutgers What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS), and breakdown of immune tolerance to CNS proteins has been suggested to initiate CNS autoimmunity. Although the mechanism underlying the breakdown of immune tolerance to CNS proteins is still unknown, gut microbiota has been suggested to be involved in disease initiation and progression. To investigate the etiology of Multiple Sclerosis, we have created humanized transgenic mice expressing MHC class II and T cell receptor genes isolated from an Multiple Sclerosis patient and showed that gut dysbiosis, alteration in intestinal microbial composition, can induce gut leakiness and subsequently trigger the development of neurological deficits through activation of complement C3 and reduction of CBLB and Foxp3 genes. This study suggests that gut dysbiosis is one of the possible etiological factors for Multiple Sclerosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Kidney Disease, Microbiome, Supplements / 19.10.2017 Interview with: Ron Walborn Jr. Prebiotin CEO What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The product Prebiotin™ Prebiotic Fiber was brought to market in 2007 by Dr. Frank Jackson, a gastroenterologist out of Harrisburg, PA. He found through 40 years of experience with his patients that a variety of digestive issues benefitted from daily supplementation with a soluble prebiotic fiber, specifically, oligofructose-enriched inulin (OEI) derived from chicory root. In the late summer of 2012, Prebiotin caught the attention of Dr. Dominic Raj at the Internal Medicine Department of George Washington University. Dr. Raj’s laboratory showed that patients with kidney disease may have a higher level of release of endotoxins like p-Cresol sulfate and indole from the bacteria in the gut, which can move into the bloodstream and promote inflammation. This early work was the basis of a successful grant application. Researchers were interested in investigating the therapeutic potential of altering the composition and/or function of the gut microbiome in this patient population, based on the understanding that by building up the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, undesirable bacteria is eventually crowded out, thereby reducing the release of harmful endotoxins into the system. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 18.10.2017 Interview with: Greg Gloor, PhD Principal investigator Professor at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We sampled the bacteria in the gut (stool) in over 1000 members of a super healthy population in China across the age ranges of 3 to over 100. Exclusion criteria included a history of genetic or chronic disease (intergenerational in the case of people younger than 30), no smoking, drinking or drug use (including no prescription drugs). Our goal was to identify what, if any changes in the makeup of the gut microbiota occurred in this population so that we could define "what is associated with health". We found three things.
  • First, that the expected differences between the very young and everyone else were found in this population. This indicates that we could observe the standards signatures of a maturing gut microbiota.
  • Second, that the gut microbiota of very healthy very elderly group (over 95 yo) was very similar to that of any very healthy person over the age of 30.
  • Third, we found that the gut microbiota of 20yo people (in three distinct groups) was different from all other age groups. The reason for the differences observed in the 20 yo groups from all the others is unknown, but is not methodological in origin.
Aging, Author Interviews, Microbiome, PNAS / 22.08.2017 Interview with: Daniel Kalman, Ph.D. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Emory University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  1. We think a lot about living longer, but that means we will also have a longer period of frailty and infirmity, which isn't optimal. Moreover, with geriatric populations projected to expand by 350 fold over the next 40 years, healthcare costs will be unsustainable.
  2. We were interested in understanding how health span of animals is regulated, and whether the microbiota plays a role. The microbiota, which is composed of bacteria inside and on us, when dysregulated (called dysbiosis) contributes to disease; the question we asked was whether it could also contribute to healthy aging, and how.
  3. We showed that animals of widely divergent phyla and separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary time, all utilize indoles to regulate how well they age; in short indoles  make older animals look younger by various metrics, including motility, and fecundity.
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 28.07.2017 Interview with: Eric I. Benchimol, MD, PhD, FRCPC Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, University of Ottawa Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Ottawa, ON Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We found that living in a rural household (compared to urban households) was protective against developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). People living in a rural household were around 10% less likely to get IBD (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). While our finding that IBD was more common in people living in urban households was similar to other studies from around the world, there were a number of new, interesting findings:
  1. Living in a rural household was most protective against pediatric-onset IBD. In fact, it was not protective in IBD with onset between ages 18-39, 40-64, or 65 and older at diagnosis.
  2. Living in a rural household in the first 5 years of life was highly protective against IBD later in life.
These findings indicate the importance of early life environmental exposures in the subsequent development of IBD. This effect has been seen in the inflammatory bowel disease literature when examining other environmental risk factors, particularly early-life antibiotic use and air pollution. These risk factors seem to have the strongest effect of increasing the risk of childhood-onset IBD, and not adult-onset disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dental Research, Microbiome, University of Pennsylvania / 14.07.2017 Interview with: Dana T. Graves DDS Department of Periodontics School of Dental Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It was previously thought that diabetes did not have a significant effect on oral bacteria. We found that diabetes caused a change in the composition of the oral bacteria. This change caused resulted in a bacterial composition that was more pathogenic and stimulated more inflammation in the gums and greater loss of bone around the teeth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, Nutrition / 07.06.2017 Interview with: Prof. Avraham A. Levy Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences Prof. Eran Elinav Department of Immunology Prof. Eran Segal Department of Computer Science And Applied Math Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot Israel What is the background for this study?  Response: We performed a type of clinical trial that is very powerful in comparing short term effects of interventions - a crossover trial. In this trial, each subject is compared to themselves; in our case, we compared increased short-term (1 week) consumption of industrial white bread vs. matched consumption of artisanal sourdough-leavened whole-wheat bread - which we originally viewed as radical opposites in terms of their health benefits. We measured various clinical end points - weight, blood pressure, various blood tests - and also the gut microbiome. To our great surprise, we found no difference between the effects those two breads had on the various end points that we measured. This does not mean that bread consumption had no effect - but that this effect was generally similar for its two types. In fact, when we analyzed our data when pooling together the two bread types (i.e., testing whether bread of any type had an effect), we found that just one week of bread consumption resulted in statistically significant changes to multiple clinical parameters - on the one hand, we saw a reduction in essential minerals in the blood (calcium, magnesium, iron) and an increase in LDH (marker of tissue damage); on the other hand, we saw an improvement in markers of liver and kidney function, inflammation markers and cholesterol levels. In terms of the microbiome, we have found only a minimal difference between the effects of the two bread (two microbial taxa that were increased with white bread) - but in general, we saw that the microbiome was very resilient to this intervention. This is surprising as the current paradigm in the field is that a change in nutrition rapidly changes the makeup of the microbiome. We say that this is probably dependent on the kind of change - as we had a nutritional change here which was significant enough to change clinical parameters, which we tend to think of as very stable, and yet had a minimal effect on the microbiome. At this point, there were two possible explanations to what we saw: The first is that bread had an effect in our intervention, but it was very similar between those two very distinct types. The second is that these two distinct types indeed had different effects, but they were different for each subject - and thus cancel out when we look at the entire population. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Microbiome / 01.06.2017 Interview with: Dr. Gerard Clarke PhD APC Microbiome Institute Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science University College Cork, Cork, Ireland What is the background for this study? Response: Over the last decade or so, we and others have shown that the gut microbiome exerts a broad influence on the central nervous system, reflected in a range of abnormal behaviours and altered brain function in germ-free animals. These germ-free animals grow up in a sterile bubble and allow us to see what aspects of brain and behaviour could be under the influence of the microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tract. One of the most consistent findings to emerge relates to anxiety-like behaviours. (more…)
Author Interviews, C. difficile, Infections, Microbiome / 09.05.2017 Interview with: Sheila Connelly, PhD Vice President, Research Synthetic Biologics, Inc. What is the background for this study? Response: Synthetic Biologics, Inc. is focused on the protection and preservation of the gut microbiome which is the diverse collection of microorganisms that live in the intestinal tract. We are learning that the gut microbiome plays a key role in health. Negative changes to the microbiome, called dysbiosis, are linked to disease states including allergies, autism, and obesity, among a rapidly growing list of other conditions. A consequence of using antibiotics is that, in addition to fighting the bacterial infection being treated, they also kill the gut microbiota. The space left in the gut by the dead bacteria allows other surviving bacteria, many times opportunistic pathogens or microbes that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, to overgrow and fill the open niches. Exposure to antibiotics, particularly broad-spectrum antimicrobials, such as penicillins and cephalosporins, is a major risk factor for acquiring a potentially deadly Clostridium difficile infection. Another consequence of antibiotic use is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Widespread use of antibiotics provides selective pressure for the evolution of lethal, multi-drug resistant pathogens, termed “nightmare bacteria”. The gut microbiome acts as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance that can be triggered, by antibiotic exposure, to acquire and propagate resistance genes. A way to protect the microbiome and reduce antibiotic resistance is to limit exposure of the gut microbiota to antibiotics. To this end, we developed an antibiotic inactivation strategy using a beta-lactamase enzyme to degrade beta-lactam antibiotics in the GI tract before they can harm the gut microbiome. Beta-lactamases are naturally-occurring bacterial enzymes that confer resistance to beta-lactams, the most widely used broad spectrum antibiotics, and their presence is normally considered an obstacle to efficacious infection control. We took advantage of the highly efficient antibiotic degradation activity of a beta-lactamase and developed SYN-004 (ribaxamase). Ribaxamase is a beta-lactamase engineered to inactivate penicillins and most cephalosporins, formulated for oral delivery, and intended for use with IV beta-lactam antibiotics to degrade the antibiotics in the GI tract to protect the microbiome. Ribaxamase was demonstrated to significantly reduce the occurrence of C. difficile disease in a recently completed Phase 2b clinical study. The study met its primary endpoint by demonstrating that ribaxamase, when delivered orally with IV ceftriaxone, significantly reduced C. difficile disease in patients treated for a respiratory tract infection. Ribaxamase also resulted in a significant reduction in new colonization by vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). For the current study, pig models of antibiotic-mediated gut dysbiosis were established using three classes of beta-lactam antibiotics, a cephalosporin, ceftriaxone, a penicillin, amoxicillin, and a carbapenem, ertapenem. The ceftriaxone model was used to evaluate the protective effect of ribaxamase on the microbiome and the amoxicillin and ertapenem models are intended for evaluation of pipeline products. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, Nutrition, Weight Research / 28.04.2017 Interview with: Krzysztof Czaja VBDI, D.V.M Associate professor of veterinary biosciences and diagnostic imaging College of Veterinary Medicine University of Georgia What is the background for this study? Response: The neural regulation of food intake and satiety in rodents and human are similar. Therefore, rodent model is well established in studying neural regulation in obesity in humans. What are the main findings? Response: We determined that diets rich in sugar, and many “diet products” contain high amount of sugar (sometimes under different names), increase efficiency of accumulation of body and liver fat. We also found that sugar-rich diets change the gut microflora toward overpopulation of enterotoxic bacteria, damaging neural gut-brain communication and disrupting neural regulation of food intake. The implications of our results on human health are very significant because they show that diets rich in sugar changes the brain circuits responsible for food intake and satiety, induces chronic inflammation and symptoms of non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD). (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Microbiome, Pediatrics / 10.04.2017 Interview with: Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD Department of Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have known for a while that early-life exposure to household pets can reduce risk for allergic disease; new studies also suggest a benefit in preventing overweight. Our pilot study in 2013 showed that postnatal pet exposure increases the number of different beneficial microbes in the infant gut. My team of 12, including first author and Albert Innovates-Health Solutions (AIHS) postdoctoral fellow Hein Min Tun, took the science one step closer to understanding this connection in our recently published work in the Microbiome journal. In a study of 746 infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD) birth cohort, we investigated the impact of pet exposure during pregnancy or afterwards on infant gut microbes, and whether this depended on how infants were born. In infants born vaginally or by cesarean section, pet exposure during pregnancy or pre and postnatally up to 3 months after birth increased the amounts of 2 bacteria found on dogs and cats. One is Ruminococcus, linked to lower rates of allergies in children. The other is a relatively unknown microbe, Oscillospira, reported to promote leanness. Another important finding suggested that contact with pets during pregnancy could reduce transmission of vaginal GBS (group B Streptococcus) during birth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 10.04.2017 Interview with: Dr. Orla O’Sullivan Computational Biologist, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Co. Cork, Ireland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previously we had demonstrated that professional rugby players had significantly increased microbial diversity compared to both low and high BMI controls. This microbial diversity correlated with creatine kinase levels in the blood (which we had used as a proxy for exercise) and protein intake. In this present study we went a step further and demonstrated that these same athletes had distinct functional potential in their gut microbes compared to controls and furthermore both the host derived ( urine) and bacterial derived ( faecal water) metabolites were also distinct in the athlete group. In particular we found that the athlete’s microbiome is primed for tissue repair and to harness energy from the diet, reflecting the significant energy demands and high cell-turnover evident in elite sport. Thus, the state of physical fitness is not limited to the host alone; it appears to also include conditioning of the microbiota. (more…)
Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Microbiome, Probiotics, Schizophrenia / 10.04.2017 Interview with: Emily G. Severance PhD Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology Department of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previously, we found that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had an increased susceptibility to Candida albicans yeast infections, which was sex specific and associated with memory deficits. Also in an earlier placebo-controlled probiotic study, we found that although probiotics improved the overall bowel function of people with schizophrenia, there was no effect by this treatment on psychiatric symptoms.  Given that C. albicans infections can upset the dynamics of the human microbiome, we decided to re-evaluate the potential benefit of probiotics in the context of a patient’s C. albicans yeast status.  Not only was bowel function again enhanced following intake of probiotics, but yeast antibody levels were decreased by this treatment. Furthermore, psychiatric symptoms were actually improved over time for men receiving probiotics who did not have elevated C. albicans antibodies. Men who were positive for C. albicans exposure, however, consistently presented with worse psychiatric symptoms irrespective of probiotic or placebo treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Microbiome, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 05.04.2017 Interview with: Hans Bisgaard, MD, DMSc Professor of Pediatrics The Faculty of Health Sciences University of Copenhagen Copenhagen University Hospital, Gentofte Copenhagen, Denmark What is the background for this study? Response: The consumption of antibiotics is increasing worldwide. Antibiotics alter the maternal bacterial colonization and by vertical transmission this can affect the offspring. An unfavorable microbiome may increase the disease propensity of the offspring. Otitis media is one of the most common infections in early childhood. We hypothesized that antibiotic consumption in pregnancy can increase the children’s risk of otitis media. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 28.03.2017 Interview with: Dr Pauline Scanlan Royal Society-Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellow/APC Faculty, APC Microbiome Institute, Biosciences, University College Cork, Éire What is the background for this study? Response: The human gut is host to an incredible diversity of microbes collectively known as the gut microbiome. Each of us has a unique collection of bacterial strains that form part of the gut microbiome. This uniqueness is of potentially crucial importance with respect to host health as we know that differences in bacterial strain diversity within species could have a range of positive or negative consequences for the human host. For example, some strains of a given bacteria are harmless whilst another strain of the same bacterial species could kill you. A classic example of such a difference in strain functionality is exemplified by the gut bacterium Escherichia coli – one strain called E. coli Nissle 1917 is used as a probiotic and another, E. coli O157:H7, has been responsible for a number of deadly food-borne pathogen outbreaks. Therefore a better understanding of what drives bacterial strain diversity is not just fundamental to our understanding of the ecology and evolution of microbes but is also highly relevant for improvements in human health and disease prevention. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Inflammation, Microbiome, Nature / 19.03.2017 Interview with: Justin E. Wilson, Ph.D On behalf of the authors Research Assistant Professor - Laboratory of Jenny Ting Department of Genetics Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27599 Could you provide me with some background on this project? Why did you decide to do this research project? What prior work led up to this latest paper? Response: Previous work from our lab and others discovered two major points about NLRP12: a) NLRP12 suppresses inflammation in response to bacterial components b) NLRP12 provides protection against the inflammatory bowel disease colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer (i.e., Nlrp12-defcient mice have greater colon inflammation and inflammation-driven colon cancer). Therefore, we wanted to know if Nlrp12 was regulating inflammation in the colon by responding to the trillions of intestinal microbes collective referred to as the microbiome. Mounting evidence also indicates that the immune system both responds to and influences the composition of the intestinal microbiome during intestinal health and disease, and we hypothesized that NLRP12 could be one of the important immune components during this process. Moreover, we were also interested in this topic because targeting the microbiome to treat inflammatory disorders and other diseases is an attractive method that has many advantages over immune suppression. (more…)
Author Interviews, C. difficile, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome, Transplantation / 14.03.2017 Interview with: Dr. H. L. DuPont MD Director, Center for Infectious Diseases, UTHealth School of Public Health Mary W. Kelsey Chair in the Medical Sciences, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences UTHealth School of Public Health Houston, TX 77030 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many diseases and disorders are associated with “dysbiosis,” where the intestinal microbiota diversity is reduced. This contributes to disease and to the acquisition of antibiotic resistance. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is successful in conditions with pure dysbiosis (e.g. C diff infection) and a single dose of FMT is curative in most cases. (more…)