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Microbial Gut Bacteria and Antibiotics Part 5

Video 5 From the Interview Meeting with Les covers:

  • Ecoli and Inflammatory Bowel Patients
  • Good bacteria in IBD patients
  • The immune system reactions to good/bad bacteria
  • Bacterias that can actually talk to our immune system and turn them down
  • Probiotics

Les: There are studies which have used techniques similar to the ones I’ve used which have compared basically patients with either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis and compared them to healthy controls(people without these diseases).  Or, compared people with active flare ups to remissions.  And there is definitely a different microbial community that exists.

Some of the bacteria, we think of E. Coli as the normal gut microbe, and E coli and its relatives tend to be in normal people actually pretty rare, but they tend to become more abundant in people who have Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.  And some of the bacteria that tend to be most abundant in normal healthy individuals go down in abundance with inflammation.  It may have something to do with oxygen tolerance because most of the bacteria that live in our gut are not tolerant of oxygen.  One of the ways our bodies deal with inflammation one of the ways we fight off infection is essentially through oxygenate products.  Exposing germs to oxygenated products…

Adam: Wait hang on here.. wow wow.  So we have inflammation going on, lets say poison oak etc.. The body wants to expose the bad stuff to oxygen so the oxygen will kill the bad stuff, is that the idea?

Les:  And its not just oxygen, its various oxygenated peroxides, oxygen is usually part of these compounds, but essentially its a highly chemically reactive substance.  So in effect yeah, our body is using these highly reactive substances, especially if there is germs that are not usually used to oxygen (they live in places where oxygen is usually reduced) it can be an effective way to hurt the bacteria.  It also can cause damage to tissue. Some of the damage that is caused by inflammation is due to this process.

But, the inflammation in our gut might also be damaging the microbes that usually are there that are not causing a problem and are helpful to us but also cannot tolerate oxygen.  That may be why those populations(of healthy bacteria) are decreasing if you have inflammatory bowel disease.

There are other parts to this story as well, certainly Crohn’s disease, I’m no authority on UC or Crohn’s Disease, but the thinking is that once there has been something to initiate a problem, and there is a break in the barrier function that keeps the gut microbes safely in the gut, away from the interior body and away from most of the immune reactivity, if somehow that system breaks down, then the normal gut bacteria is now in the wrong place.  When our body can start to see the bacteria penetrate through the gut wall because there are these lessions, then our immune system reacts to that.  This is because those bacteria(even though they are not the usual pathogens) they are not in the place they should be.  They are now not staying in the gut, its not their fault, there is sort of an open sore they can’t help it, our immune system reacts, we have this massive response, and the inflammatory process propetuates the lessions.  So, once something triggers the immune system, it can be very hard to interrupt it. (This is the problem with our disease)  That’s why there may be situations where some may get the disease and then be in remission for a while and then something triggers a flare up.

Adam: I go on on a story about my mini colitis flare I had after going to a wedding and going off my strict SCD diet back in May 2010.

Les:  One of the things I’ve thought of after hearing your story and reading your blogs is that there can be certain populations of microbes that will increase in abundance based on what we eat and then as part of what we eat some parts will make their way down undigested and when we eat things that we haven’t eaten for a while, it may make its way down and allow for new populations of microbes to grow.

We know that different populations of bacteria interact with the immune system differently.  And I’m not talking about just the so-called friendly bacteria versus pathogens.  Even among the bacteria that are even considered to be present normally(not the pathogens) some actually secrete molecules that actually turn down our infections response/ inflammatory response.  So, fecale bacteria proninciae, its a funny named bacteria, turns out often times to be the most abundant single strain in a healthy person’s gut. Its been shown to be able to actually talk to our immune system and turn down its reactivity.  It has an anti-inflammatory property.

Alot of the PROBIOTICS that people take, these lactobasilis strains, they are known, some of them to have what are called immune modulatory properties.  They can turn down immune reactivity.  So you think, “Is that a good thing to turn down our immune system?”.  Well, if you are having symptoms due to an overactive immune system, then yes it is a good thing.  But, there are other strains of bacteria that live in our gut that either don’t have that downward property, or even may tend to up-regulate the immune system.  There are certain cell surface compounds that maybe present only on certain strains of bacteria that REALLY send the immune system ballistic(they make it go crazy).  So, maybe a normal bacterium that is usually in the gut, maybe if it gets through the intestinal barrier, it kinda sends out some alarm bells.  BUT, just one bacterium of a different strain, might REALLY send the immune system screaming, because there are these strain to strain differences.  At this point its speculation, we just don’t know.  But its quite plausible that something you’ve eaten, some component of a diet, provides a food for a bacterium, that happens to be one of these real alarm ringers, that when it gets abundant, its really going to send the immune system running wild.(like a 4 alarm fire!) That’s the connection that perhaps the physicians aren’t seeing, they don’t think that diet changes the immune system, and there isn’t a direct…. (Next video time, its starting to get real interesting eh!!!)

Thanks A LOT AGAIN Les, this stuff is super cool for us UC’ers!!

Part 6 of the Les Interviews

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