Gut microorganisms are more influenced by nutrition than by defenses

May 06, 2023 18:43 IST

Stockholm [Sweden], May 6 (ANI): Many variables affect the composition of the gut microbiota, including diet and the body’s synthesis of intestinal defense molecules, researchers at Ume University in Sweden have found. Instead, scientists concluded that these molecules may play a role in preventing blood sugar levels from increasing after ingesting a high-calorie “Western-style diet.”
“Although defenses have little effect on shaping the composition of the adult microbiota compared to diet, defenses still play a very important role in protecting us from microbial infections; and our research highlights its protective role against metabolic complications that may arise after ingestion. a Western-style high-fat and high-sugar diet,” said Fabiola Puertolas Balint, a PhD student at Umea University’s department of molecular biology.
She works in Bjorn Schroder’s research group, which is affiliated with the Umea Center for Microbial Research, UCMR, and the Swedish Molecular Infectious Medicine Laboratory, MIMS, at Umea University.
The gut microbiota refers to the community of trillions of microorganisms that live within each person’s gut. Over the past decades, the abundance of specific bacteria in this community has been extensively studied for its link to many diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and diabetes, and even psychological disorders. The microbial community is seeded at birth, after which several internal and external factors help shape the community to its final composition. These factors include, among others, diet (especially fiber), genetics, medications, exercise, and defense molecules, the so-called antimicrobial peptides.
Antimicrobial peptides can be seen as the body’s own natural antibiotic molecules. In particular, the largest group of antimicrobial peptides – the defenders – are produced by all body surfaces, including the skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. They are considered to be the first line of defense of the immune system against infections but at the same time they are also thought to be necessary to shape the microbiota composition in the small intestine. However, it was not clear until now how large their effect was compared to diet, which is known to have a large effect.

To investigate this, the researchers from Bjorn Schroder’s laboratory used normal healthy mice and compared their microbiota composition in the small intestine to mice that were unable to produce functional defenses in the gut, and then both groups of mice were fed healthy diet or low-. western style dietary fiber.
“When we analyzed the composition of microbiota inside the gut and at the gut wall of two different regions in the small intestine, we were surprised – and a little disappointed – that defensin had only a very small effect on shaping the overall composition of the microbiota,” a said Bjorn Schroder.
However, the intestinal protectors still had some effect directly at the gut wall, where the protectors are produced and released. Here, some specific bacteria, including Dubosiella and Bifidobacteria, appeared to be affected by the presence of the protectants, probably due to the selective antimicrobial activity of the protectants.
“To our surprise, we also found that the combination of eating a Western-style diet and a lack of functional defense increased fasting blood glucose values, indicating that defenders may help protect against metabolic disorders when eating an unhealthy diet,” said Bjorn Schroder. (ANI)

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