The first step in understanding gut microbial ecology is determining the presence and potential niche breadth of associated microbes. While the core gut bacteria of adult honey bees is becoming increasingly apparent, there is very little and inconsistent information concerning symbiotic bacterial communities in honey bee larvae. The larval gut is the target of highly pathogenic bacteria and fungi, highlighting the need to understand interactions between typical larval gut flora, nutrition and disease progression. Here we show that the larval gut is colonized by a handful of bacterial groups previously described from guts of adult honey bees or other pollinators. First and second larval instars contained almost exclusively Alpha 2.2, a core Acetobacteraceae, while later instars were dominated by one of two very different Lactobacillus spp., depending on the sampled site. Royal jelly inhibition assays revealed that of seven bacteria occurring in larvae, only one Neisseriaceae and one Lactobacillus sp. were inhibited. We found both core and environmentally vectored bacteria with putatively beneficial functions. Our results suggest that early inoculation by Acetobacteraceae may be important for microbial succession in larvae. This assay is a starting point for more sophisticated in vitro models of nutrition and disease resistance in honey bee larvae.
Genetic fingerprinting methods, such as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), are used in microbial ecology for the analysis of mixed microbial communities but are associated with various problems. In the present study we used a new alternative method: denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (dHPLC). This method was previously shown to work with samples from water and gut flora but had not yet been applied to complex environmental samples. In contrast to other publications dealing with dHPLC, we used a commonly available HPLC system. Samples from different origins (fermentor sludge, compost, and soil), all ecologically significant, were tested, and the 16S rRNA gene was amplified via PCR. After optimization of the HPLC elution conditions, amplicons of pure cultures and mixed microbial populations could be separated successfully. Systematic differentiation was carried out by a cloning approach, since fraction collection of the peaks did not result in satisfactory fragment separation. dHPLC was evaluated as a tool for microbial community analysis on a genetic level and demonstrated major improvements compared to gel-based fingerprinting methods, such as DGGE, that are commonly used in microbial ecology.
The development and maintenance of immune homeostasis indispensably depend on signals from the gut flora. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which are gram-positive (G+) organisms, are plausible significant players and have received much attention. Gram-negative (G−) commensals, such as members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, may, however, be immunomodulators that are as important as G+ organisms but tend to be overlooked. Dendritic cells (DCs) are crucial immune regulators, and therefore, the present study aimed at investigating differences among human gut flora-derived LAB and G− bacteria in their patterns of DC polarization. Human monocyte-derived DCs were exposed to UV-killed bacteria, and cytokine secretion and surface marker expression were analyzed. Profound differences in the DC polarization patterns were found among the strains. While strains of LAB varied greatly in their capacity to induce interleukin-12 (IL-12) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), G− strains were consistently weak IL-12 and TNF-α inducers. All strains induced significant amounts of IL-10, but G− bacteria were far more potent IL-10 inducers than LAB. Interestingly, we found that when weakly IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB and strong IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB were mixed, the weakly IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB efficiently inhibited otherwise strong IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB, yet when weakly IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB were mixed with G− bacteria, they synergistically induced IL-12 and TNF-α. Furthermore, strong IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB efficiently up-regulated surface markers (CD40, CD83, CD86, and HLA-DR), which were inhibited by weakly IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB. All G− bacteria potently up-regulated surface markers; however, these markers were not inhibited by weakly IL-12- and TNF-α-inducing LAB. These much divergent DC stimulation patterns among intestinal bacteria, which encompass both antagonistic and synergistic relationships, support the growing evidence that the composition of the gut flora affects immune regulation and that compositional imbalances may be involved in disease etiology.
Arthropods living on plants are able to digest plant biomass with the help of microbial flora in their guts. This study considered three arthropods from different niches - termites, pill-bugs and yellow stem-borers - and screened their guts for cellulase producing microbes. Among 42 unique cellulase-producing strains, 50% belonged to Bacillaceae, 26% belonged to Enterobacteriaceae, 17% belonged to Microbacteriaceae, 5% belonged to Paenibacillaceae and 2% belonged to Promicromonosporaceae. The distribution of microbial families in the three arthropod guts reflected differences in their food consumption habits. Most of the carboxymethylcellulase positive strains also hydrolysed other amorphous substrates such as xylan, locust bean gum and β-D-glucan. Two strains, A11 and A21, demonstrated significant activity towards Avicel and p-nitrophenyl-β-D-cellobiose, indicating that they express cellobiohydrolase. These results provide insight into the co-existence of symbionts in the guts of arthropods and their possible exploitation for the production of fuels and chemicals derived from plant biomass.
HLA-DRB1*0401 is associated with susceptibility, while HLA-DRB1*0402 is associated with resistance to developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and collagen-induced arthritis in humans and transgenic mice respectively. The influence of gut-joint axis has been suggested in RA, though not yet proven.
We have used HLA transgenic mice carrying arthritis susceptible and -resistant HLA-DR genes to explore if genetic factors and their interaction with gut flora gut can be used to predict susceptibility to develop arthritis. Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene from the fecal microbiomes of DRB1*0401 and DRB1*0402 transgenic mice revealed that the guts of *0401 mice is dominated by a Clostridium-like bacterium, whereas the guts of *0402 mice are enriched for members of the Porphyromonadaceae family and Bifidobacteria. DRB1*0402 mice harbor a dynamic sex and age-influenced gut microbiome while DRB1*0401 mice did not show age and sex differences in gut microbiome even though they had altered gut permeability. Cytokine transcripts, measured by rtPCR, in jejuna showed differential TH17 regulatory network gene transcripts in *0401 and *0402 mice.
We have demonstrated for the first time that HLA genes in association with the gut microbiome may determine the immune environment and that the gut microbiome might be a potential biomarker as well as contributor for susceptibility to arthritis. Identification of pathogenic commensal bacteria would provide new understanding of disease pathogenesis, thereby leading to novel approaches for therapy.
The human gut microbiota has become the subject of extensive research in recent years and our knowledge of the resident species and their potential functional capacity is rapidly growing. Our gut harbours a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells which influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function while disruption to the gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Here, we review the many significant recent studies that have centred on further enhancing our understanding of the complexity of intestinal communities as well as their genetic and metabolic potential. These have provided important information with respect to what constitutes a ‘healthy gut microbiota’ while furthering our understanding of the role of gut microbes in intestinal diseases. We also highlight recently developed genomic and other tools that are used to study the gut microbiome and, finally, we consider the manipulation of the gut microbiota as a potential therapeutic option to treat chronic gastrointestinal disease.
gastrointestinal disease; gut health; microbial diversity; microbial manipulation
Biodiversity loss and climate change secondary to human activities are now being associated with various adverse health effects. However, less attention is being paid to the effects of biodiversity loss on environmental and commensal (indigenous) microbiotas. Metagenomic and other studies of healthy and diseased individuals reveal that reduced biodiversity and alterations in the composition of the gut and skin microbiota are associated with various inflammatory conditions, including asthma, allergic and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), type1 diabetes, and obesity. Altered indigenous microbiota and the general microbial deprivation characterizing the lifestyle of urban people in affluent countries appear to be risk factors for immune dysregulation and impaired tolerance. The risk is further enhanced by physical inactivity and a western diet poor in fresh fruit and vegetables, which may act in synergy with dysbiosis of the gut flora. Studies of immigrants moving from non-affluent to affluent regions indicate that tolerance mechanisms can rapidly become impaired in microbe-poor environments. The data on microbial deprivation and immune dysfunction as they relate to biodiversity loss are evaluated in this Statement of World Allergy Organization (WAO). We propose that biodiversity, the variability among living organisms from all sources are closely related, at both the macro- and micro-levels. Loss of the macrodiversity is associated with shrinking of the microdiversity, which is associated with alterations of the indigenous microbiota. Data on behavioural means to induce tolerance are outlined and a proposal made for a Global Allergy Plan to prevent and reduce the global allergy burden for affected individuals and the societies in which they live.
Allergy plan; Biodiversity; Civilization disease; Epigenetics; Immune dysfunction; Microbiota; Microbiome; Urbanization
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of idiopathic, chronic and relapsing inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. Familial and epidemiological studies have stressed the involvement of genetic factors and have also shown the critical role of environmental factors such as sanitation and hygiene in the development of IBD. However, the molecular mechanisms of intestinal inflammation in IBD have long remained unknown. In recent years, the study of susceptibility genes involved in the detection of bacterial components and in the regulation of the host immune response has shed light onto the potential role of intestinal pathogens and gut flora in IBD immunobiology. This review presents current knowledge on intestinal epithelial barrier alterations and on dysfunction of mucosal innate and acquired immune responses in IBD. The data support the etiological hypothesis which argues that pathogenic intestinal bacteria and/or infectious agents initiate and perpetuate the inflammation of the gut through disruption of tolerance towards the commensal microbiota in an individual with genetic vulnerability.
IBD; Crohn disease; ulcerative colitis; immunobiology; defensins; intestinal bacteria; T cell; dendritic cell
Allergic disorders such as atopic dermatitis and asthma are common hyper-immune disorders in industrialized countries. Along with genetic association, environmental factors and gut microbiota have been suggested as major triggering factors for the development of atopic dermatitis. Numerous studies support the association of hygiene hypothesis in allergic immune disorders that a lack of early childhood exposure to diverse microorganism increases susceptibility to allergic diseases. Among the symbiotic microorganisms (e.g. gut flora or probiotics), probiotics confer health benefits through multiple action mechanisms including modification of immune response in gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Although many human clinical trials and mouse studies demonstrated the beneficial effects of probiotics in diverse immune disorders, this effect is strain specific and needs to apply specific probiotics for specific allergic diseases. Herein, we briefly review the diverse functions and regulation mechanisms of probiotics in diverse disorders.
Hygiene hypothesis; Intestinal microflora; Gut-Associated lymphoid tissue; Probiotics; Atopic dermatitis
Malnutrition, a major health problem, affects a significant proportion of preschool children in developing countries. The devastating consequences of malnutrition include diarrhoea, malabsorption, increased intestinal permeability, suboptimal immune response, etc. Nutritional interventions and dietary solutions have not been effective for treatment of malnutrition till date. Metagenomic procedures allow one to access the complex cross-talk between the gut and its microbial flora and understand how a different community composition affects various states of human health. In this study, a metagenomic approach was employed for analysing the differences between gut microbial communities obtained from a malnourished and an apparently healthy child.
Our results indicate that the malnourished child gut has an abundance of enteric pathogens which are known to cause intestinal inflammation resulting in malabsorption of nutrients. We also identified a few functional sub-systems from these pathogens, which probably impact the overall metabolic capabilities of the malnourished child gut.
The present study comprehensively characterizes the microbial community resident in the gut of a malnourished child. This study has attempted to extend the understanding of the basis of malnutrition beyond nutrition deprivation.
Age-related physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as modifications in lifestyle, nutritional behaviour, and functionality of the host immune system, inevitably affect the gut microbiota, resulting in a greater susceptibility to infections.
By using the Human Intestinal Tract Chip (HITChip) and quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea, we explored the age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition among young adults, elderly, and centenarians, i.e subjects who reached the extreme limits of the human lifespan, living for over 100 years. We observed that the microbial composition and diversity of the gut ecosystem of young adults and seventy-years old people is highly similar but differs significantly from that of the centenarians. After 100 years of symbiotic association with the human host, the microbiota is characterized by a rearrangement in the Firmicutes population and an enrichment in facultative anaerobes, notably pathobionts. The presence of such a compromised microbiota in the centenarians is associated with an increased inflammatory status, also known as inflammageing, as determined by a range of peripheral blood inflammatory markers. This may be explained by a remodelling of the centenarians' microbiota, with a marked decrease in Faecalibacterium prauznitzii and relatives, symbiotic species with reported anti-inflammatory properties. As signature bacteria of the long life we identified specifically Eubacterium limosum and relatives that were more than ten-fold increased in the centenarians.
We provide evidence for the fact that the ageing process deeply affects the structure of the human gut microbiota, as well as its homeostasis with the host's immune system. Because of its crucial role in the host physiology and health status, age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition may be related to the progression of diseases and frailty in the elderly population.
Gut microbial communities represent one source of human genetic and metabolic diversity. To examine how gut microbiomes differ between human populations when viewed from the perspective of component microbial lineages, encoded metabolic functions, stage of postnatal development, and environmental exposures, we characterized bacterial species present in fecal samples obtained from 531 individuals representing healthy Amerindians from the Amazonas of Venezuela, residents of rural Malawian communities, and inhabitants of USA metropolitan areas, as well as the gene content of 110 of their microbiomes. This cohort encompassed infants, children, teenagers and adults, parents and offspring, and included mono- and dizygotic twins. Shared features of the functional maturation of the gut microbiome were identified during the first three years of life in all three populations, including age-associated changes in the representation of genes involved in vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism. Pronounced differences in bacterial species assemblages and functional gene repertoires were noted between individuals residing in the USA compared to the other two countries. These distinctive features are evident in early infancy as well as adulthood. In addition, the similarity of fecal microbiomes among family members extends across cultures. These findings underscore the need to consider the microbiome when evaluating human development, nutritional needs, physiological variations, and the impact of Westernization.
The western corn rootworm (WCR) is one of the economically most important pests of maize. A better understanding of microbial communities associated with guts and eggs of the WCR is required in order to develop new pest control strategies, and to assess the potential role of the WCR in the dissemination of microorganisms, e.g., mycotoxin-producing fungi.
Total community (TC) DNA was extracted from maize rhizosphere, WCR eggs, and guts of larvae feeding on maize roots grown in three different soil types. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and ITS fragments, PCR-amplified from TC DNA, were used to investigate the fungal and bacterial communities, respectively. Microorganisms in the WCR gut were not influenced by the soil type. Dominant fungal populations in the gut were affiliated to Fusarium spp., while Wolbachia was the most abundant bacterial genus. Identical ribosomal sequences from gut and egg samples confirmed a transovarial transmission of Wolbachia sp. Betaproteobacterial DGGE indicated a stable association of Herbaspirillum sp. with the WCR gut. Dominant egg-associated microorganisms were the bacterium Wolbachia sp. and the fungus Mortierella gamsii.
The soil type-independent composition of the microbial communities in the WCR gut and the dominance of only a few microbial populations suggested either a highly selective environment in the gut lumen or a high abundance of intracellular microorganisms in the gut epithelium. The dominance of Fusarium species in the guts indicated WCR larvae as vectors of mycotoxin-producing fungi. The stable association of Herbaspirillum sp. with WCR gut systems and the absence of corresponding sequences in WCR eggs suggested that this bacterium was postnatally acquired from the environment. The present study provided new insights into the microbial communities associated with larval guts and eggs of the WCR. However, their biological role remains to be explored.
The gut microbiota, which is considered a causal factor in metabolic diseases as shown best in animals, is under the dual influence of the host genome and nutritional environment. This study investigated whether the gut microbiota per se, aside from changes in genetic background and diet, could sign different metabolic phenotypes in mice.
The unique animal model of metabolic adaptation was used, whereby C57Bl/6 male mice fed a high-fat carbohydrate-free diet (HFD) became either diabetic (HFD diabetic, HFD-D) or resisted diabetes (HFD diabetes-resistant, HFD-DR). Pyrosequencing of the gut microbiota was carried out to profile the gut microbial community of different metabolic phenotypes. Inflammation, gut permeability, features of white adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle were studied. Furthermore, to modify the gut microbiota directly, an additional group of mice was given a gluco-oligosaccharide (GOS)-supplemented HFD (HFD+GOS).
Despite the mice having the same genetic background and nutritional status, a gut microbial profile specific to each metabolic phenotype was identified. The HFD-D gut microbial profile was associated with increased gut permeability linked to increased endotoxaemia and to a dramatic increase in cell number in the stroma vascular fraction from visceral white adipose tissue. Most of the physiological characteristics of the HFD-fed mice were modulated when gut microbiota was intentionally modified by GOS dietary fibres.
The gut microbiota is a signature of the metabolic phenotypes independent of differences in host genetic background and diet.
Gut microbes pyrosequencing; metabolic heterogeneity; high-fat diet responsiveness; type 2 diabetes; bacterial translocation; intestinal barrier function; intestinal bacteria; bone marrow transplantation; diabetes mellitus; gastrointestinal physiology; diabetes mellitus; ANAL; diabetes mellitus; diabetes mellitus
Intestinal ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) plays an important role in critical illnesses. Gut flora participate in the pathogenesis of the injury. This study is aimed at unraveling colonic microbiota alteration pattern and identifying specific bacterial species that differ significantly as well as observing colonic epithelium change in the same injury model during the reperfusion time course.
Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) was used to monitor the colonic microbiota of control rats and experimental rats that underwent 0.5 hour ischemia and 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 72 hours following reperfusion respectively. The microbiota similarity, bacterial diversity and species that characterized the dysbiosis were estimated based on the DGGE profiles using a combination of statistical approaches. The interested bacterial species in the gel were cut and sequenced and were subsequently quantified and confirmed with real-time PCR. Meanwhile, the epithelial barrier was checked by microscopy and D-lactate analysis. Colonic flora changed early and differed significantly at 6 hours after reperfusion and then started to recover. The shifts were characterized by the increase of Escherichia coli and Prevotella oralis, and Lactobacilli proliferation together with epithelia healing.
This study shows for the first time that intestinal ischemia-reperfusion results in colonic flora dysbiosis that follows epithelia damage, and identifies the bacterial species that contribute most.
It is now commonly accepted that the intestinal microbiota plays a crucial role in the gut physiology and homeostasis, and that both qualitative and quantitative alterations in the compositions of the gut flora exert profound effects on the host’s intestinal cells. In spite of this, the details of the interaction between commensal bacteria and intestinal cells are still largely unknown and only in few cases the molecular mechanisms have been elucidated. Here we analyze the effects of molecules produced and secreted by Lactobacillus gasseri SF1183 on human intestinal HCT116 cells. L. gasseri is a well known species of lactic acid bacteria, commonly associated to the human intestine and SF1183 is a human strain previously isolated from an ileal biopsy of an healthy volunteer. SF1183 produces and secretes, in a growth phase-dependent way, molecule(s) able to drastically interfere with HCT116 cell proliferation. Although several attempts to purify and identify the bioactive molecule(s) have been so far unsuccessful, a partial characterization has indicated that it is smaller than 3 kDa, thermostable and of proteinaceous nature. L. gasseri molecule(s) stimulate a G1-phase arrest of the cell cycle by up-regulation of p21WAF1 rendering cells protected from intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis. A L. gasseri-mediated reduction of apoptosis and of cell proliferation could be relevant in protecting epithelial barrier integrity and helping in reconstituting tissutal homeostasis.
Microbial dysbiosis has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD); however, many studies of gut microbial communities have been confounded by environmental and patient-related factors. In this study, the microbial flora of fecal samples from 19 children newly diagnosed with CD and 21 age-matched controls were analyzed using high-throughput sequencing to determine differences in the microbial composition between CD patients and controls. Analysis of the microbial composition of specific bacterial groups revealed that Firmicutes percentages were significantly lower in CD patients than in controls and that this was due largely to changes in the class Clostridia. Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria percentages were higher and significantly higher in CD patients than in controls, respectively. Both the detection frequencies of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes correlated (positively and negatively, respectively) with the calculated pediatric Crohn's disease activity index scores of patients. Upon further analysis, differences in the microbial compositions of patients with mild disease and moderate to severe disease were identified. Our findings indicate that a combination of different bacterial species or a dynamic interplay between individual species is important for disease and is consistent with the dysbiosis hypothesis of CD.
There is convincing evidence from recent human and animal studies that suggests the intestinal microbiota plays an important role in regulating immune responses associated with the development of allergic asthma, particularly during early infancy. Although identifying the mechanistic link between host-microbe interactions in the gut and lung mucosal tissues has proved challenging, several very recent studies are now providing significant insights. We have shown that administering vancomycin to mice early in life shifts resident gut flora and enhances future susceptibility to allergic asthma. This effect was not observed in mice given another antibiotic, streptomycin, nor when either antibiotic was administered to adult mice. In this addendum, we further analyze the link between early life administration of vancomycin and future susceptibility to asthma and describe how specific immune cell populations, which have been implicated in other asthma-related microbiota studies, are affected. We propose that shifts in gut microbiota exacerbate asthma-related immune responses when they occur shortly after birth and before weaning (perinatal period), and suggest that these effects may be mediated, at least in the case of vancomycin, by elevated serum IgE and reduced regulatory T cell populations.
antibiotics; asthma; gut; microbiota; early life; perinatal programming; immune mechanisms
Growth characteristics of coliphage viruses indicate that they are adapted to live with their Eschericia coli hosts in the intestinal tract. However, coliphage experimentally introduced by ingestion persist only transiently if at all in the gut of humans and other animals. This study attempted to identify the barriers to long term establishment of exogenous coliphage in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of laboratory mice. Intestinal contents were screened for the presence of coliphage and host bacteria, and strains of E. coli bacteria from different segments of the GI tract were tested for susceptibility to six common laboratory coliphages.
Contrary to expectations, coliphage were not evident in the GI tracts of laboratory mice, although they were occasionally detected in feces. Commensal flora showed extreme variability within groups of mice despite identical handling and diet. Less than 20% of 48 mice tested carried E. coli in their gut, and of 22 commensal E. coli strains isolated and tested, 59% were completely resistant to infection by lambda, M13, P1, T4, T7, and PhiX174 coliphage. Lysogeny could not be demonstrated in the commensal strains as mitomycin C failed to induce detectable phage. Pre-existing immunity to phages was not evident as sera and fecal washes did not contain significant antibody titers to six laboratory phage types.
Lack of sufficient susceptible host bacteria seems to be the most likely barrier to establishment of new coliphage infections in the mouse gut.
A comparative study of the bacterial flora of the water of Chesapeake Bay and Tokyo Bay was undertaken to assess similarities and differences between the autochthonous flora of the two geographical sites and to test the hypothesis that, given similarities in environmental parameters, similar bacterial populations will be found, despite extreme geographic distance between locations. A total of 195 aerobic, heterotrophic bacterial strains isolated from Chesapeake Bay and Tokyo Bay water were examined for 115 biochemical, cultural, morphological, nutritional, and physiological characters. The data were analyzed by the methods of numerical taxonomy. From sorted similarity matrices, 77% of the isolates could be grouped into 30 phena and presumptively identified as Acinetobacter-Moraxella, Caulobacter, coryneforms, Pseudomonas, and Vibrio spp. Vibrio and Acinetobacter species were found to be common in the estuarine waters of Chesapeake Bay, whereas Acinetobacter-Moraxella and Caulobacter predominated in Tokyo Bay waters, at the sites sampled in the study.
The gut microbiota refers to the trillions of microorganisms residing in the intestine and is integral in multiple physiological processes of the host. Recent research has shown that gut bacteria play a role in metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The mechanisms by which the gut microbiota affects metabolic diseases are by two major routes: (1) the innate immune response to the structural components of bacteria (e.g., lipopolysaccharide) resulting in inflammation and (2) bacterial metabolites of dietary compounds (e.g., SCFA from fiber), which have biological activities that regulate host functions. Gut microbiota has evolved with humans as a mutualistic partner, but dysbiosis in a form of altered gut metagenome and collected microbial activities, in combination with classic genetic and environmental factors, may promote the development of metabolic disorders. This paper reviews the available literature about the gut microbiota and aforementioned metabolic disorders and reveals the gaps in knowledge for future study.
In previous studies, we showed that peptidoglycan polysaccharides from anaerobic bacteria normally present in the human gut induced severe chronic joint inflammation in rats. Our hypothesis is that peptidoglycan from the gut flora is involved in perpetuation of idiopathic inflammation. However, in the literature, the presence of peptidoglycan or subunits like muramyl peptides in blood or tissues is still a matter of debate. We were able to stain red pulp macrophages in all six available human spleens by immunohistochemical techniques using a monoclonal antibody against gut flora-derived antigens. Therefore, these human spleens were extracted, and after removal of most of the protein, the carbohydrate fraction was investigated for the presence of muramic acid, an amino sugar characteristic for peptidoglycan. Using three different methods for detection of muramic acid, we found a mean of 3.3 mumol of muramic acid with high-pressure liquid chromatography, 1.9 mumol with a colorimetric method for detection of lactate, and 0.8 mumol with an enzymatic method for detection of D-lactate per spleen (D-lactate is a specific group of the muramic acid molecule). It is concluded that peptidoglycan is present in human spleen not as small muramyl peptides as were previously searched for by other investigators but as larger macromolecules probably stored in spleen macrophages.
Colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by bacteria of the normal flora was followed by bacteriological and special histological techniques in mice from several colonies. These histological techniques were designed to preserve the intimate associations that become established between particular strains of microorganisms and the epithelium of the mucosa of certain areas of the gut. The findings were as follows: 1. The various strains of bacteria of the normal flora became established in the different areas of the guts of infant mice according to a definite time sequence. 2. The first types of bacteria that could be cultured from the gut were lactobacilli and Group N streptococci. Within the first day after birth, these bacteria colonized the entire digestive tract and formed layers on the stratified squamous epithelium of the nonsecreting portion of the stomach and of the distal esophagus. 3. The bacterial types that appeared next were coliforms and enterococci. From about the 9th to the 18th day after birth, these bacteria could be cultured in extremely high numbers from the cecum and the colon. Histological sections of those organs taken during the first 2 or 3 days of that interval revealed microcolonies of Gram-positive cocci in pairs and tiny Gram-negative rods embedded in the mucous layer of the epithelium. The microcolonies were well separated from the mixture of digesta and bacteria that occupied the center of the lumen; they may have consisted of the coliforms and enterococci mentioned above; but this possibility remains to be proved. 4. Histological sections also revealed that, at about the 12th day after birth, long, thin Gram-variable rods with tapering ends were present, side by side, with the small Gram-negative rods and Gram-positive cocci in the mucous layer. By the 15th day after birth, the fusiform bacteria formed thick layers in the mucus, and seemed to be the only bacteria remaining in that location. It has not yet been possible to enumerate these tapered rods by culture methods, but as judged by visual appearances in the histological sections, they seemed to outnumber all other bacteria in the cecum and the colon by a factor of as much as 1000. It must be stressed that these bacterial layers are readily disrupted and even washed away by conventional histological techniques; their discovery was largely due to the use of the special histological techniques described in the text. The bacteriological and histological findings described here constitute further evidence for the hypothesis that symbiotic associations exist between microorganisms and animals, and that a very large percentage of the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract constitutes a true autochthonous flora. The constant occurrence of several distinct associations of bacteria with the special histological structures of the animal host renders obsolete the notion that the intestine constitutes a chemostat in which the bacterial populations are randomly mixed. For a full understanding of the ecology of the normal microflora, it is necessary to think of body surfaces as distinct microenvironments in which virtually pure cultures of a few species of microorganisms interact with their host and the adjacent microbial populations. Experiments based on this hypothesis are admittedly difficult to design, but on the other hand studies based on the assumption that microorganisms exist as mixtures in the gastrointestinal tract will be only of limited value and may often be misleading.
Culturing and molecular techniques were used to monitor changes in the bacterial flora of the avian gastrointestinal (GI) tract following introduction of genetically modified (GM) and unmodified probiotics. Community hybridization of amplified 16S ribosomal DNA demonstrated that the bacterial flora of the GI tract changed significantly in response to the probiotic treatments. The changes were not detected by culturing. Although both GM and non-GM strains of Enterococcus faecium NCIMB 11508 changed the bacterial flora of the chicken GI tract, they did so differently. Probing the community DNA with an Enterococcus faecalis-specific probe showed that the relative amount of E. faecalis in the total eubacterial population increased in the presence of the non-GM strain and decreased in the presence of the GM probiotic compared with the results obtained with an untreated control group.
Our immune system has evolved to recognize and eradicate pathogenic microbes. However, we have a symbiotic relationship with multiple species of bacteria that occupy the gut and comprise the natural commensal flora or microbiota. The microbiota is critically important for the breakdown of nutrients, and also assists in preventing colonization by potentially pathogenic bacteria. In addition, the gut commensal bacteria appear to be critical for the development of an optimally functioning immune system. Various studies have shown that individual species of the microbiota can induce very different types of immune cells (e.g., Th17 cells, Foxp3+ regulatory T cells) and responses, suggesting that the composition of the microbiota can have an important influence on the immune response. Although the microbiota resides in the gut, it appears to have a significant impact on the systemic immune response. Indeed, specific gut commensal bacteria have been shown to affect disease development in organs other than the gut, and depending on the species, have been found to have a wide range of effects on diseases from induction and exacerbation to inhibition and protection. In this review, we will focus on the role that the gut microbiota plays in the development and progression of inflammatory/autoimmune disease, and we will also touch upon its role in allergy and cancer.
commensal bacteria; microbiota; autoimmunity; allergy; cancer; Treg; Th17; probiotics