Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Intestinal bacteria produce neurotransmitter, could play role in inflammation

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have identified commensal bacteria in the human intestine that produce a neurotransmitter that may play a role in preventing or treating inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease.

"We identified, to our knowledge, the first bifidobacterial strain, Bifidobacterium dentium, that is capable of secreting large amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This molecule is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central and enteric nervous systems," says Karina Pokusaeva, a researcher on the study and a member of the laboratory of James Versalovic.

GABA is one of the chief inhibitory neurotransmitters in the human central nervous system. It plays a role in regulating pain and some pain relieving drugs currently on the market act by targeting GABA receptors on neural cells.

Pokusaeva and her colleagues were interested in understanding the role the human microbiome might play in pain and scanned the genomes of potentially beneficial intestinal microorganisms, identified by the Human Microbiome Project, for evidence of a gene that would allow them to create GABA.

"Lab analysis of metagenomic DNA sequencing data allowed us to demonstrate that microbial glutamate decarboxylase encoding gene is very abundant in intestinal microbiota as compared to other body sites," says Pokusaeva. One of the most prolific producers of GABA was B. dentium, which appears to secrete the compound to help it survive the acid environment.

In addition to its pain modulating properties, GABA may also be capable of inhibiting inflammation. Recent studies have shown that immune cells called macrophages also possess GABA receptors. When these receptors were activated on the macrophages there was a decrease in the production of compounds responsible for inflammation.

"Our lab was curious to explore if GABA produced by intestinal human isolate B. dentium could have an effect on GABA receptors present in immune cells," says Pokusaeva. Together with their collaborators Dr. Yamada and Dr. Lacorazza they found that when the cells were exposed to secretions from the bacteria, they exhibited increased expression of the GABAA receptor in the immune cells.

While the findings are preliminary, they suggest the possibility that B. dentium and the compounds it secretes could play a role in reducing inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel diseases.

The next step, says Pokusaeva is to conduct in vitro experiments to determine if the increased GABAA expression correlates with a decrease in production of cytokines associated with inflammation. GABAA receptor signaling may also contribute to pain signaling in the gut and may somehow be involved in abdominal pain disorders.

"Our preliminary findings suggest that Bifidobacterium dentium could potentially have an inhibitory role in inflammation; however more research has to be performed to further prove our hypothesis," says Pokusaeva.

Dr. Pokusaeva will participate in a live webcast media availability to discuss her research on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The webcast can be found online at

This research was presented as part of the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology held June 16-19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. A full press kit for the meeting, including tipsheets and additional press releases, can be found online at

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>