You probably know that your gut contains millions of microorganisms that help digest foods and regulate immune system.
In fact, we all are born without any bacteria in our intestinal tract. Starting from the delivery, our intestine gets settled with different microorganisms.
During first years of life, each child gets its own individual microbial profile that depends mainly on the diet, sanitation and exposure to medications, such as antibiotics. Formed in infancy, the composition of gut microflora stay relatively stable within the whole life.
Some of these microscopic agents live in the intestinal lumen, while others prefer mucosal membrane of the gut.
Specialists often divide intestinal bacteria into “good” and “bad” types. But is it always right?
A recent study found that one sort of bacteria, called Helicobacter, which is commonly associated with stomach ulcer, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, may turn “bad” only when being in unhealthy gut environment.
In this research, scientists looked at immune reactions in completely healthy germ-free mice and those with artificially-induced colitis (bowel inflammation).
Results show that in the first group of mice Helicobacter caused tolerant immune response that accepted new microorganisms, while in the second group immune system perceived Helicobacter as foreign bodies and tried to get rid of it.
So, it’s most likely that Helicobacter may play as “positive” or “negative” character, depending on person’s state of health. These microorganisms are recognized as pathobionts, which might not have well-described function in the human body.
Specialists say that your level of stress, dietary choices and genetics can make a great influence on the gut condition. Thus, in wrong situation, in unhealthy individual with genetic abnormalities, Helicobacter can trigger inflammation in any part of the digestive tract.
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Gut bacteria interact with host’s immune T-cells all the time, promoting protection of the gastrointestinal system. However, some Helicobacter species can raise inflammation and even lead to autoimmune processes, like Crohn’s diseases and ulcerative colitis. In these disorders, person’s immune cells begin to destroy his or her own bowel tissues by mistake.
Scientists note that the study doesn’t mean that all gut microorganisms are originally neutral. For example, Helicobacter pylori was proved to have a close link with developing stomach ulcers and malignancies. But it’s really interesting that Helicobacter was thought as solely harmful microorganisms. And the truth is that they may promote good-for-body immune reaction.
This finding may be a first step for creating new, more powerful treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
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