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Low gut bacteria diversity increases risk of severe infections

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a month ago

A recent study published in The Lancet Microbe highlights the importance of beneficial bacteria in the gut in protecting against severe infections like pneumonia. Researchers found that a higher abundance of anaerobic butyrate-producing bacteria in the intestines was associated with a reduced risk of hospitalization due to infections.

Butyrate is a fatty acid produced when microbes in the lower intestinal tract ferment dietary fibers. This compound has been shown to boost the immune system by inducing the production of antimicrobial peptides, which help prevent pathogens from colonizing organs like the lungs and bladder, thus limiting tissue damage.

The study, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and Finland, observed 10,000 individuals over six years and found that those with lower levels of butyrate-producing bacteria in their gut were more likely to be hospitalized due to severe infections. The findings suggest that the composition of the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in protecting against infectious diseases.

Furthermore, the researchers cautioned against the widespread use of anaerobic antibiotics, which can kill butyrate-producing gut microbiota and lead to the growth of pathogenic bacteria. They recommended reevaluating the use of these antibiotics to prevent disruptions in the gut microbiome.

The study's lead author, Robert Kullberg, emphasized the potential for interventions targeting the gut microbiota to reduce the susceptibility to systemic infections. By either delivering butyrate-producing bacteria or limiting the depletion of anaerobic bacteria in the gut, researchers believe that it may be possible to decrease the risk of hospitalization for infectious diseases.

Overall, this study sheds light on the intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and susceptibility to severe infections, providing insights that could inform future interventions and treatment strategies.

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