How good gut bacteria respond to infection

IANS| Last Updated: Jul 13, 2014, 13:14 PM IST

New York: In what could help better treat and prevent gastrointestinal infection, researchers have used unique computational models to show how infection can affect bacteria that naturally live in our intestines.

"Our gut contains ten times more bacterial cells than there are human cells in our body," said Lynn Bry from Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US.

"The behaviour of these complex bacterial ecosystems when under attack by infection can have a big impact on our health," Bry added.

Researchers developed novel computer algorithms to analyse the different stages of infection when a pathogen known as Citrobacter rodentium, which causes disease in mice similar to food-poisoning in humans, was introduced into the guts of mice.

They generated a two-month time-series of the population levels of bacteria throughout multiple sites in the intestine.

The computational framework, known as Microbial Counts Trajectories Infinite Mixture Model Engine, was used to identify dynamic changes within the complex communities of bacteria in the gut associated with infection and inflammation.

The researchers observed many disruptions in the normal bacteria at different locations in the gut during the infection.

For instance, they discovered a microbial signature in the colon involving species belonging to the genus Mucispirillum that showed decreases early in infection before the onset of symptoms.

"From a clinical perspective, these new microbial signatures we identified could help clinicians detect early stages of inflammation or subtle persistent disease in patients with gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease," Bry added.

The study was published in the journal in PLOS ONE.