Administering antibiotics to mothers during birth alters the microbiota of newborns

Giving antibiotics to mothers while they are giving birth affects the process of establishing the intestinal microbiota of the new born baby, according to a study led by the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas de España-CSIC, in Spanish) and recently published in Journal of Pediatrics. In the case of premature babies, the study says, the alterations could be even more serious.

At birth, bacterial colonization of the gut begins, and this is key to the maturation of a newborn’s immune system. Any disruption that occurs in this process, experts believe, could increase the risk of the baby suffering various diseases in the future. “In previous studies we have found large differences in the process of bacterial colonization between preterm and term infants and wanted to delve into perinatal factors responsible for these differences. We knew that breastfeeding, vaginal delivery and antibiotics could be key factors,” explains to Gut Microbiota Worldwatch Miguel Gueimonde, lead author of the study. Read more

A study establishes new connections between gut microbiota and autoimmune diseases

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronical autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, the brain and other organs. In Spain, between forty and fifty thousand people suffer from lupus, according to the Spanish Association of Lupus (Federación Española de Lupus). A new research study, lead by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), has deciphered the profile of gut microbiota in SLE patients.

Results published in the October issue of mBIO magazine showed an imbalance in the ratio of the two largest groups of microorganisms in the human gut (Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes) in favour of Bacteriodetes, while the overall bacterial load and diversity was similar between patients and controls. “Previous evidence suggests that gut microbiota might impact symptoms and progression of some autoimmune diseases. However, this had not been studied in SLE patients using massive sequencing techniques. The intestinal dysbiosis described in this work allows us to consider the microbiota as a new target to point to attack SLE symptoms”, the coordinator of the study, Abelardo Margolles, a CSIC researcher at the Instituto de Productos Lácteos of Asturias, explained to Gut Microbiota Worldwatch. Read more

Jetlagged microbiota could contribute to obesity

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in New York or going on holidays to some Polynesian islands could be a very enticing plan, no doubt, but it may be not so thrilling for your gut microbiota. It appears that this huge community of helpful microbes inhabiting your digestive tract are very sensitive fellows. And if travelling to the other part of the planet can bring on jet lag as a side effect (a very uncomfortable sensation making you feel dizzy, dozy, exhausted), these microbes could “feel” also deeply disorientated by this temporary condition.

A new study with rodents conducted by an Israeli team of researchers that was recently published in the Journal Cell has shown, for the very first time, that gut microbiota follows the circadian rhythm, our internal clock, just as we humans do. When this inner clock is disrupted, it can throw the microbes off, potentially increasing the risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Many previous studies had already established links between people with shift work, suffering from disturbed sleep or repeated jet lag and the vulnerability for some health problems including metabolic diseases and even some types of cancer. Until now, however, the exact mechanisms of this relationship were unknown. The findings of this study could be the missing link. Read more

Micropia, the first museum dedicated to microbes, opened its doors in Amsterdam

Last September, Micropia, the first museum dedicated to showing the invisible universe of microbes, opened in Amsterdam. Microbes make up almost two-thirds of living organisms and, more and more, new species that were previously unknown come to light. Until now, however, there was no place to display them in public. Micropia was created with the aim of occupying this space and becoming an international microbiology platform capable of generating interest in the topic to break the barrier about it, which, until recently, was only accessible through scientific knowledge.

Micropia provides information about the importance of microbes to both humans and animals, and the advances that they may be able to provide us in the future. For those unable to visit the museum, we recommend exploring the Micropia website, which tries to replicate the actual museum, but in an online format. Some sections are: Read more