Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, C. difficile, Nature / 05.01.2018 Interview with: Professor Robert Britton PhD Therapeutic Microbiology Laboratory Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research Baylor College of Medicine Interview: How would you summarise your findings? Response: As a brief summary of our work, certain strains of Clostridium difficile have emerged in the past 20 years that have resulted in epidemics worldwide, leading to C. difficile becoming one of the most common causes of hospital acquired infections.  Two ribotypes of C. difficile, RT027 and RT078, emerged as key epidemic ribotypes associated with increased disease prevalence and increased mortality in patients.  We found that both of these ribotypes have acquired the ability to consume the disaccharide trehalose by two completely independent mechanisms.  We further show that trehalose enhances disease severity of C. difficile infection in a manner that requires C. difficile to metabolize trehalose in mice.  We also show that trehalose is present in the distal intestine of mice and humans in concentrations that the RT027 ribotype can metabolize.  Because RT027 and RT078 strains were present in clinics at least 10-20 years prior to their becoming epidemic isolates, we looked where people would acquire trehalose in the diet. In 2000 the FDA approved trehalose for human consumption (EFSA did so in 2001) and based on the GRAS report from the FDA the amount of trehalose predicted to be consumed once released on the market would vastly increase what people get naturally from the diet.  Our data support that these two ribotypes increased in prevalence due to a change in the human diet. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Nature, Nutrition / 08.03.2015

Benoit Chassaing, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr.  Gewirtz's lab. Institute for Biomedical Sciences Center for Inflammation, Immunity, & Infection Georgia State University Atlanta GA Interview with: Benoit Chassaing, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr.  Gewirtz's lab. Institute for Biomedical Sciences Center for Inflammation, Immunity, & Infection Georgia State University Atlanta GA 30303 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chassaing: A key feature of inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic syndrome is alteration of the gut microbiota in a manner that promotes inflammation. Importantly, incidence of IBD and metabolic syndrome has been markedly increasing since about the mid-20th century, and this dramatic increase has occurred amidst constant human genetics, suggesting a pivotal role for an environmental factor. We considered that any modern additions to the food supply might play an important role, and addition of emulsifiers to food seems to fit the time frame of increased incidence in these diseases. We found that emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods to aid texture and extend shelf life, can alter the gut microbiota composition and localization to induce intestinal inflammation that promotes development of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome. (more…)