Gut bacteria essential for developing immune cells
Researchers from Caltech in Pasadena, CA, have published a study in the journal Cell Host & Microbe showing that gut bacteria plays a key role in the development of innate immune cells provide a first line of defense against infections.
To conduct their study, the team tested the ability of mice to fight off infection by exposing them to the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which is harmful to humans and often used in mouse studies of the immune system. They found that the healthy mice recovered quickly after being injected with the bacterium, but the germ-free mice died because they were not able to fight off the infection. However, when the germ-free mice were then given gut bacteria typically found in healthy mice, their white cell count increased, and they survived the infection.
In another part of the study, the team gave healthy mice antibiotics to kill their gut bacteria and then injected them with Listeria. Again, they became sick and had trouble fighting off the infection.
This study adds to the debate over how to deal with superbugs resistant to antibiotics and whether it’s wise to use antibiotics as a preventative measure against infection in surgery patients.