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Development of gut bacteria early in life may have lifelong consequences

Posted:  Monday, October 12, 2015

The gentle beings inhabiting our stomach exert actions much above their microscopic size. Numerous studies have time and again unearthed their potential function. Just as a recent study found the link of FLVR bacteria with asthma risk in later life, another study finds how gut bacteria may influence key epigenetic changes in the gut ultimately affecting the gut health.

American researchers report that gut microbiome is a dynamic process. For their study, they used mouse models to isolate pure intestinal stem cell population. Upon their whole-genome sequencing during the suckling and weaning period, they found that DNA methylation was a key step in influencing intestinal stem cells.

Methylation of CpG islands (CGIs) seemed to activate important genes, which in turn helped develop intestinal stem cells. Some of these epigenetic changes seemed to be influenced by gut bacteria. Intestinal stem cells are the control centre of the gut which helps to make new intestinal cells. Thus these stem cells help regulate the gut physiology for a lifetime.

Although many studies have shown the positive influence of gut microbiome, this study helps understand the mechanism of action. The researchers call for some studies in human to help develop an epigenetic maturation index in infants for optimal gut health. “This promises some exciting opportunities to understand how we might be able to tailor one's microbiome exposure during infancy to maximize health and reduce gastrointestinal disease throughout life,” concluded the researchers.

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