A stomach bacterium believed to cause health problems such as gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer may play a dual role by balancing the stomach's ecosystem and controlling body weight and glucose tolerance, according to immunologists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute of Virginia Tech.
Usually the villain in studies of gastric cancer and peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infect about half of the world's population although most infected individuals don't get sick. The bacterium's dwindling numbers coincide with the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in developed countries.
"H. pylori is the dominant member of the gastric microbiota and infects about half of the world population. While H. pylori infection can be associated with severe disease, it helps control chronic inflammatory, allergic, or autoimmune diseases," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, director of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory and the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens (MIEP) at Virginia Tech. "We demonstrated for the first time that gastric colonization with H. pylori exerts beneficial effects in mouse models of obesity and diabetes."
During the past 20 years, obesity in the United States has increased dramatically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 36 percent of U.S. adults and approximately 17 percent of young people aged 2 to 19 years are obese. Obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes and the rates of diabetes have increased in parallel with the rates of obesity.
Mice infected with H. pylori showed less insulin resistance than uninfected mice or other mice infected with a more virulent strain of H. pylori, according to the study, which was recently published in PLOS One. Researchers believe that whether the infection is harmful or beneficial depends on the interaction between the genetic makeup of H. pylori and the host's immune response.
H. pylori carrying the cytotoxin-associated gene pathogenicity island were harmful. But the bacteria with or without an atypical island may be integral to human stomach microbiota. Indeed, studies show that humans have been colonized by H. pylori for about 116,000 years.
The role of H. pylori as a pathogen does not provide an explanation as to why it has colonized the stomach of humans thousands of years. Our new findings suggest that H. pylori may provide important metabolic traits required to ameliorate diabetes that humans have not evolved on their own," Bassaganya-Riera said.
This suggests that the overuse of antibiotics for everything from misdiagnosed infections in humans to supplementary livestock feed may destroy beneficial bacteria and contribute directly to diseases such as obesity, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma. It may be time for humans to reconsider how we can better co-exist with H. pylori and other microbes as a means of promoting health.
"This novel finding underscores the complex relationship between H. pylori and humans, with effects not limited to the stomach, but more broadly affecting systemic inflammation and metabolism," said Martin Blaser, the Frederick H. King Professor of Internal Medicine and chairman of the Department of Medicine, and professor of microbiology at New York University School of Medicine.
To better understand the complex relationship between H. pylori and the human host and to better predict health outcomes, the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens has developed computer models of the mechanisms by which H. pylori interacts with the host and new tools for investigating such interactions," Bassaganya-Riera said.
MIEP is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN272201000056C.
Tiffany Trent | EurekAlert!
Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease
27.11.2015 | Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg
Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected
27.11.2015 | Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.
Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.
In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...
In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.
Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...
Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...
25.11.2015 | Event News
17.11.2015 | Event News
21.10.2015 | Event News
27.11.2015 | Press release
27.11.2015 | Life Sciences
27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences