Preventive Role of Gut Flora
by Ren Chats
Preventive Role of Gut Flora in Autoimmune Diseases and Food Allergies
Gut flora is crucial for optimal immune balance.
Disturbing the good bacteria can increase the chances of allergies and autoimmune mediated chronic diseases in genetically predisposed children: Type 1 Diabetes.
Need to maintain friendly relationship with good bacteria has been reemphasized by the results of two research that were recently published (Feb-Mar’2013). The concluded causes and the consequences of hampered gut flora are depicted in the diagram given above.
Consequences of disruption of normal gut flora:
1. Team of researchers of The Hospital for Sick Children did the study on mice, which showed that exposure to good bacteria during early neonatal period leads to optimal development of gut flora that may be instrumental in preventing autoimmune disorder in genetically predisposed children.
In this study, normal gut flora from adult male mice was introduced in female mice, who were at high risk for autoimmune mediated Type 1 Diabetes. Results showed 70% reduction in the incidence of clinical disease.
Implications are exciting.
i.) It offers an explanation that why the incidence of Type 1 Diabetes could be lower among children brought up in less strict hygiene environment, such as farms, low socioeconomic status or developing countries.
ii.) It also throws light on the possibility of preventing Type 1 Diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
2. The study accidentally explained the probable cause for women being more prone to immune disorders: The female mice who received adult male gut flora showed high levels of male hormone, testosterone. Testosterone was found to be essential in preventing the disease. This accidental finding has opened an entire new field for research:
i.) Do males and females have different gut flora?
ii.) What is the role of good bacteria in sex hormone regulation?
iii.) Can sex hormone control immune mediated disorders?
3. The chances of developing allergy to certain foods was found to be higher in infants who underwent antibiotic treatment more than twice during their first year of life.
The studies presented were exciting and though provoking. The explanations for the observations were quite convincing, yet some controversies existed. Further work in the field was therefore recommended to ensure authentic correlation of antibiotic therapy induced gut flora disruption and food allergies among infants and toddlers.
1. Janet G. M. Markle, Daniel N. Frank, Steven Mortin-Toth, Charles E. Robertson, Leah M. Feazel, Ulrike Rolle-Kampczyk, Martin von Bergen, Kathy D. McCoy, Andrew J. Macpherson, and Jayne S. Danska. Sex Differences in the Gut Microbiome Drive Hormone-Dependent Regulation of Autoimmunity.
2. Antibiotic Exposure in Infancy Linked to Food Allergies: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2013 Annual Meeting; Abstract L14. Presented February 26, 2013. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780023
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