Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New UGA study demonstrates bacterial pathogens use hydrogen as energy source in animals

29.11.2002


A new study, just published in the journal Science, shows for the first time that some bacteria that cause diseases in humans use molecular hydrogen as an energy source. The research could point the way toward new treatment regimens for everything from ulcers and chronic gastritis to stomach cancer.



Microbiologists at the University of Georgia worked specifically in mice with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori, a pathogen that colonizes the mucosal surfaces of the human stomach and gives rise to gastritis, peptic ulcers and sometimes certain types of gastric cancer.

"This was completely unexpected, because most scientists have thought that hydrogen was always lost from the body as a waste product," said Rob Maier, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Ramsey Professor of Microbiology at UGA. "This is the first evidence that hydrogen remains in the body at substantial levels and is an energy source for pathogenic bacteria. Our knowledge that human pathogens can grow on hydrogen while residing in an animal may have profound implications for the treatment of some diseases."


Coauthor for the paper is Jonathan Olson, now an assistant professor of microbiology at North Carolina State University, who contributed to the work as a postdoctoral associate in Maier’s laboratory at UGA.

Perhaps as important as the discovery that hydrogen can fuel the growth of Helicobacter is Maier’s belief that the same process may provide energy for other human pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter jejuni, the leading cause of bacterial human diarrhea illnesses in the world. These bacteria also have the hydrogen-utilizing enzyme, but the role of the enzyme has not yet been addressed, said Maier. Because the hydrogen comes from flora in the colon, something as simple as a diet change could profoundly impact the progress of disease from all of these bacteria.

Bacterial oxidation of molecular hydrogen is common in nature, but the presence and role of hydrogen in animals has been little studied. Tests have shown the presence of hydrogen in the breath of human test subjects, indicating it is somewhere in the body, but science was virtually unanimous in believing that whatever molecular hydrogen was produced in the body was excreted as an unneeded waste product, with no role in metabolism or cell growth. Maier resolved to find out once and for all where such hydrogen might be, so he inserted a tiny probe into the stomachs of living mice and measured the amounts of hydrogen in the area of the animals’ mucosal layer.

The result was startling. After more than 30 measurements, Maier and Olson found large amounts of hydrogen present -- the first time that hydrogen has ever been detected in any vertebrate animal tissue. The team repeated the experiment on different stomach regions of more live, anesthetized mice and found hydrogen present in every sample, though in differing concentrations.

"We not only found this hydrogen present in the gastric mucosa of mice but we discovered that its use greatly increased the stomach colonization ability of H. pylori," said Maier.

The implications of the research reach beyond science to medicine for both humans and animals. An estimated 50 percent of humans, for example, are infected with H. pylori -- hundreds of millions of people -- though most show no symptoms from the pathogen. The bacterium is very good at coexisting with its host most of the time, but it causes a range of illnesses for which people spend vast sums each year seeking relief. No one knows how the pathogen is spread, and whether it is through food or water or physical contact remains speculative. Nor do scientists yet know how the hydrogen gets from the producers (the bacterial flora in the colon) to the hydrogen consumers at the walls of the stomach, though it could be through the bloodstream.

What is clear is that molecular hydrogen is apparently a virulence factor for human pathogens -- something entirely unsuspected before this research. (Hydrogen levels have recently been measured in the termite hind-gut and in the cockroach mid-gut, but this is the first evidence of it within vertebrate tissue. Mouse models are frequently used to unravel human health problems, since both share many of the same biological processes.)

"This really represents a new factor in understanding how a human pathogen grows and persists in an animal host," said Maier. "Hydrogen may play an especially important role in setting up the stable infection required for the most serious of the pathologies associated with H. pylori infection, gastric ulceration and cancer. This is because one hallmark of the pathogen is its persistence in the mucosa, and its long-term survival would be affected by the availability of its energy source, namely hydrogen."

The research may well open numerous avenues for new studies. It has been estimated that 14 percent of all the intestinal-produced hydrogen is excreted through the breath of humans, and Maier and Olson speculate that hydrogen may be carried to the lungs via the bloodstream. Though unstudied, it’s possible that this hydrogen could serve as an energy source for pathogens in other areas of the body, including the lungs and internal organs.

Since the amount of hydrogen produced in the colon varies based on diet, and since the researchers have shown that H. pylori uses this hydrogen as an energy source, something as simple as a diet change could affect virulence and persistence of this and other pathogens.

Kim Carlyle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>