What is Your Gut Telling You?

Articles

Scientists have long studied the link between our genes and our health. Now, in a growing area of scientific research, they’re studying the link between the bacteria in our intestines and virtually every disease that ails us.

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The gut microbiome modulates colon tumorigenesis

Published Research

Recent studies have shown that individuals with colorectal cancer have an altered gut microbiome compared to healthy controls. It remains unclear whether these differences are a response to tumorigenesis or actively drive tumorigenesis. To determine the role of the gut microbiome in the development of colorectal cancer, we characterized the gut microbiome in a murine model of inflammation-associated colorectal cancer that mirrors what is seen in humans. We followed the development of an abnormal microbial community structure associated with inflammation and tumorigenesis in the colon. Tumor-bearing mice showed enrichment in operational taxonomic units (OTUs) affiliated with members of the Bacteroides Conventionalization of germfree mice with microbiota from tumor-bearing mice significantly increased tumorigenesis in the colon compared to that for animals colonized with a healthy gut microbiome from untreated mice. Furthermore, at the end of the model, germfree mice colonized with microbiota from tumor-bearing mice harbored a higher relative abundance of populations associated with tumor formation in conventional animals. Manipulation of the gut microbiome with antibiotics resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the number and size of tumors. Our results demonstrate that changes in the gut microbiome associated with inflammation and tumorigenesis directly contribute to tumorigenesis and suggest that interventions affecting the composition of the microbiome may be a strategy to prevent the development of colon cancer.

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Maternal micronutrients can modify colonic mucosal microbiota maturation in murine offspring

Published Research

Epidemiologic data suggest that early nutritional exposures may inflict persistent changes in the developing mammalian “super-organism” (i.e., the host and its residing microbiota). Such persistent modifications could predispose young adults to inflammatory bowel Diseases (IBD). We recently observed that the dietary supplementation of four micronutrients to dams augmented colitis susceptibility in murine offspring in association with mucosal microbiota composition changes. In this study, the effects of the four micronutrients on the microbiota of dams and female mice was examined. Additionally, age dependent microbiota composition shifts during pediagric development were delineated from the previous offspring data sets. Maternal and adult female microbiota did not separate secondary to the nutritional intervention. Significant microbiota composition changes occurred from postnatal day 30 (P30) to P90 at the leve of 1 phylum and 15 genera. Most of these changes were absent or opposite in the maternally supplemented offspring. Nutritionally induced alterations in mucosal microbiota maturation may be contributors to colitis susceptibility in mammals.

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